Take Five
By George Rose
June 30, 2009

Hugh Grant takes Up's 3-D effects seriously.

Something wonderful happened a week ago. No, it was not the release of Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen. For those of you who have seen the movie, you probably disliked it as much as I did. Why did one of the Autobots have a gold tooth? Why did the 5-in-1 mega Decepticon, the ultimate climax of the movie, have giant metal testicles? Why is Shia LaBeouf still allowed to destroy beloved franchises? When these are the questions you are left with after seeing a movie, it's not a good sign. Unfortunately, the movie earned $200 million in its first five days, solidifying another sequel. That sequel will probably also make me long for the glory days of the Transformers cartoon. Hopefully Shia will damage more than just his hand during the filming of it.

In any case, around the time of the film's release, I was given a gift. My aunt, who works for Delta Airlines, knew I was having financial troubles and was working at a job I loathed, so said she would give me a "buddy pass" to go on vacation. This pass allows me to fly standby anywhere in the world for a very small fraction of what a regular plane ticket would cost. Because of this generous offer, I immediately quit my job at the dead-end restaurant I was working at and booked a flight to Greece, where my family is from. For the low price of $450, I get to fly round-trip to Athens. Oh yeah, and I'll be flying first class. I guess not all of life sucks as bad as Transformers: ROTF and Michael Bay.

Because my plane ticket is so cheap, I have decided to stay in Greece longer than any other vacation I've been lucky enough to take. My grandmother is feeding and housing me while I stay with her on the island of Chios, so other than this ticket all I have to pay for is booze and souvenirs. Factoring all this in, I have decided to stay for two months. Yup, two freaking months!!! The only downside to going away for two month to a Greek island is... no Internet. Of all the places to go, I chose a third-world island that serves as a vacation spot to the Greeks. Most people on the island live on the mainland for eight months of the year working, saving up money so they can veg-out on the nude beaches of Chios for the hot summer. There is only one town on the island and while it does have an Internet café, it is a half hour drive away. Cars are not as common there as they are here in the US.

I love my job writing the Take Five article for BOP, so when I found out that I would be leaving for two months I made sure to arrange for its continuation. I'd like to give a special thanks to David Mumpower and Kim Hollis for understanding these last minute plans and granting me the opportunity to bring the article with me to Greece. There will be some slight modifications, though, to accommodate my lack of casual internet access (which my American mind has become far too accustomed to).

These changes are as follows:

* Take Five will be published every two weeks, as opposed to its regular weekly schedule (New schedule: 7/14, 7/28, 8/11 and 8/25). If I'm lucky enough to have more frequent Internet access, I will try and post a few more. It will return to its weekly release pattern on 9/8/09.

* I will not be able to check the Internet daily. I will not be able to see the rest of the summer movies (until I return and go to the theater for a marathon). Most importantly, and much to my heartbreak, I will not be able to follow the daily and weekly box office tracking and income. Because of these things which I'll lose out on while away, my typical intro of box office commentary will be changed to bragging about life in a foreign country. Take Five is going on vacation too, and you're all going to come with me! OPA!!!

* Instead of recommending five movies I have seen in the past, I'm going to watch brand new movies I have never seen before. I'm bringing my laptop with me and my college roommate, Ken, was generous enough to loan me a large portion of the 600 DVDs he owns. I figured if the article was going to be released differently, would be written in a different country and would have a different intro, I might as well mix things up and have a little fun with it. Let's try something new, people! It's summer so I'm going to go wild with it.

I will obviously still discuss five movies in each article or I would have to change the Take Five title. After weeks of writing about how we don't often get much free time in our busy lives to take a five minute break or to watch five movies a week (let alone one), I'm going to... take a break and watch five movies! God (or whoever) has heard my prayers (or ranting) and is helping to take Take Five to new heights. I leave Wednesday morning and have a ton of packing to finish, so let's get this week's recommendations going, shall we?

You know what, I think I'll mix it up now. Why wait two weeks, right? I don't have time (as usual) to watch five new movies I haven't seen but I'm going to play a little game and see if I can tell a story with some of these movies. Let's call it "Five Degrees of George Rose"! While I'm in Greece, I plan on writing a memoir of my college escapades and the one I'll be on in Greece, so in honor of this book (cross your fingers it gets published one day) I'm going to tell a little story using some movies that have been by my side during these adventures.

Cruel Intentions (1999)

Think Gossip Girl, but better quality, acting and cast. Cruel Intentions came out just before I got to high school and was everything I looked up to before I started ninth grade. Starring Ryan Phillippe, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Reese Witherspoon, Selma Blair and Joshua Jackson, the story follows two sexual-deviant step-siblings, Sebastian and Kathryn (Phillippe and Gellar), as they plot to destroy the reputation of the daughter of the headmaster of their private school. They make a bet that requires Sebastian to bed this new-good-girl-in-town, Annette (Witherspoon), all while manipulating the lives of their other friends (Blair and Jackson) as well. People can be so cruel, can't they? Of course it isn't as easy as they planned and they quickly learn that harming the lives of others can often lead to harming your own.

It was nothing like the high school I went to, since mine wasn't in New York and I don't consider myself part of high-society, but the idea that people have bad intentions when it comes to love and friendship isn't so uncommon. After watching the movie and allowing its shallow mindset to sink into mine, I went to college in Boston and immediately started dating a popular bartender. I was a shy little guy, lost in a new city without family or friends, much like Annette. While she didn't want any part of the drama that was Kathryn and Sebastian, I had no problem letting someone who knew the ins-and-outs of the club world take me under their wing. Oh, to be naïve and young again. I was in all the anti-sex-drugs-cigarettes-and-fun after school programs growing up, so rebelling during college should have been expected. If only I put a little more thought into the expectations of who I chose to date. Bartenders of the nightlife don't usually have the best intentions themselves and are surrounded by beautiful people who throw around money (and body parts) to get stronger drinks served faster, which often leads those bartenders to be...

Unfaithful (2002)

Just before this was released, Richard Gere had a string of box office duds. Autumn in New York, Dr. T and the Women, and Mothman Prophecies were all a big yaaaaawns in my book, as they were for most critics. Then came Unfaithful. Not only did it bring the hard working actor back to critical acclaim, it sky-rocketed the career of his costar, Diane Lane. She received an Academy Award nomination for her turn as an unhappy wife who cheats on her husband (Gere) with the sultry foreigner (Olivier Martinez) who helps her up off the street after she falls during a storm. Naturally, they start a full-blown affair and soon they're having sex all over the place. Sounds hot, right? That is until her husband becomes suspicious and hires an investigator to have her followed. Then the real excitement begins!

Most young romances, like the one I experienced, don't last. You need to have a few before you fully understand them, so that when you meet "the one" you are prepared and mature enough to make it last. I always knew my bartender-ex was going to cheat on me. During the two years we were together, I would snoop all over the place and found plenty of evidence that made my suspicions stronger, though it was not always conclusive. When I finally found real proof, it was not what I was hoping to find at all (is it ever?). Did my ex cheat on me with a doctor? Was I cheated on with an accountant? Heck, did my ex cheat on me with another college student? No, apparently what my ex was looking for was nothing that resembled intelligence or an education. I wasn't even cheated on with a nice foreigner who was helpful on a stormy day. I was cheated on with... a stripper. I guess I bored my ex more than Gere bored Lane with marriage and a child. After discovering the news, there was only one thing I could do to make it all better. In times of sadness in despair, I turn to...

Notting Hill (1999)

I love Julia Roberts. How can you not, she's got a gorgeous smile and an agent that rarely steers her in the wrong direction. While Pretty Woman is her claim to fame and one of her best movies, I give the top honor to one of her many other wonderful romantic comedies, Notting Hill. She plays a movie star (quite the acting stretch) who is in England promoting her latest movie. While there, she meets a local book store owner (played by fellow romantic comedy vet, Hugh Grant) and finds him to be too charming to resist. The real lesson here, ladies, is that famous men aren't as good as home-grown men. Would you rather be arm candy or truly worshiped? The film follows the difficulties these two opposites face as lovers and has plenty of scenes of true romance and humor to keep it entertaining throughout.

The reasons I love this movie so much is because these two lovebirds are so opposite. It's like Romeo and Juliet, except it's the rich movie star and the poor book store owner. I've always enjoyed it for that fairy tale aspect, until the day I needed it to stop myself from falling into a deep, dark depression. I always considered me and the bartender to be a fairy tale in the making. We were from opposite sides of the tracks. I was the goody-goody who left home after years of servitude to my high school's anti-fun clubs and my Greek Orthodox church. The bartender was a college drop-out and a serial-slut before we met. I thought we would be the fitting puzzle pieces to bring us both a bit closer to normalcy and reality. Instead, I got cheated on with a stripper. Right after I found out, I spent the entire day alone in my room with Notting Hill on repeat, crying my naïve little eyes out. After watching it three times, Julia Roberts gave me enough strength to get up off my bed. I immediately went to the liquor store, bought a handle of vodka, and went right back to bed to watch the movie two more times. After I polished off the bottle, I was ready to rejoin the human race. I also planned to make my ex suffer. I had officially become one of those...

Grumpy Old Men (1993)

I like romantic comedies in all their forms, whether they be films of two beautiful young people trying love out (Notting Hill) or movies about older people giving it yet another chance. When they have romantic comedies that cast older stars, they aren't usually newcomers. They turn to the heavy hitters to bring in the audience, since nobody really wants to see two old people making out unless they're super famous (like Jack Nicholson and Diane Keaton in Something's Gotta Give, another great romantic comedy with old-timers at the wheel). For Grumpy Old Men, we are given the acclaimed talent of the comedy duo known as Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau. Oh yeah, and let's not forget the still stunning Ann-Margret. The films follows two lifelong neighbors whose "friendship" consists mostly of bickering and pointless rivalries. It's all harmless fun until a pretty woman moves onto their street and give them something really worth fighting over. Also starring Daryl Hannah and Kevin Pollack, the film is a great watch because of the three leads and their wonderful comedic timing and on screen chemistry. Lemmon and Matthau have worked on several projects together and it shows in Grumpy Old Men. It shows so well that they made an equally successful sequel, Grumpier Old Men.

After my breakup, I saw myself becoming like these men. I figured I'd end up alone, miserable and constantly creating arguments with people as my form of entertainment, rather than getting up off my self-deprecating butt and finding something that makes me smile instead of sneer, like a new neighbor that would be the object of my affection. It took a long time to stop being a grumpy old man myself but the film reminds me that my life may not have turned out so bad if I did. Grumpy old men are hilarious (go see Pixar's Up if you need more proof) and even they get second chances at love. While my second chance didn't take 50 years of waiting, it was a long time before I'd move on and stop exacting my own revenge on the one that stole my first love. Let me tell you something, kids, first love is not all it's cracked up to be. It's only great because you don't know what to expect. You let hopes and Walt Disney get you all excited but it doesn't work like the fairy tale. Losing love is common and it feels terrible, but it's worth going through so you can learn from it and make the second love stronger and make wiser decisions during it. Loss isn't so bad, just ask...

Harry Potter 1-5 (2001-2007)

Ok, so this one doesn't tie into my life too much, other than it being a franchise the moron bartender and I have enjoyed thoroughly. I'm mostly mentioning it because of all the movies coming out this summer from now until my return from Greece on September 2, I am most disappointed about missing Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. I'm mostly upset because Transformers: ROTF was a travesty and I wish I had seen a better movie in theaters before going to a place without theaters for two months. To be honest, I'd rather see Star Trek (so, so, so good) for a fourth time than ever see Transformers: ROTF again.

I've done this sort of thing before, as I recommended the X-Men trilogy before seeing Wolverine (another summer heartbreak). Since my goal during the rest of the summer is to talk about movies I'm watching for the first time, this is my last opportunity for a few months to recommend a franchise in place of one movie. Because I have absolute faith in the Harry Potter films (I've seen and loved them all, despite not having read them) and am so hurt by how Michael Bay betrayed us all once again, I figured I'd tell you all to watch or re-watch the Harry Potter films. It is my goal to make sure Harry Potter 6 makes more money than Transformers 2, though I doubt it will. Harry Potter 7: Part 2 probably will, but as far as the HP track record is concerned, it will probably cap off at around $300 million, not enough to beat the Decepticons.

I would also normally tell you about the plot, but you'd have to be living under a rock without Internet to know about Harry Potter. Or maybe you live on the island of Chios in Greece, since they are also void of technology and global communication. Just in case today was the first day you bought a computer and Internet, and have found yourself at BOP reading my Take Five article, Harry Potter is about a boy who attends a school for wizards with his two best friends. Each time around they fight some version of Voldemort, Harry's nemesis and the guy who killed his parents. There are tons of sub-plots and side characters worth mentioning, but you'll just have to watch the first five films and go see the sixth on July 15th to figure them all out. Or just go read the books.

And that, my dear readers, is the end of this week's article. I hope you enjoyed the little glimpse into my life that I threw into this week's article. Maybe I'll do another "Five Degrees of George Rose" sometime. Until then, check back again in two weeks on July 14th for the very first Take Five: Greek Edition. Or should I call it My Big Fat Greek Take Five? Who knows, maybe I'll surprise you all when you check back then. Anyway, I hope you all have as wonderful a summer as I'm planning to have and may all your flights be as safe and delay-free as I'd like mine on Wednesday to be. See you soon, America!