On the one hand, there’s having an appreciation for art when you go to the movies.
On the other, there’s knowing your own personal tastes, and knowing what makes a deeper connection with you.
It’s important to possess both of these qualities for Blake Ewing, the local businessman who became a Tulsa city councilor but who has a new job as the creative director for OKPOP.
That’s the Oklahoma Museum of Popular Culture that is being built in downtown Tulsa, where Ewing will play a key role in how to show off the achievements of talented Oklahomans in the world of moviemaking, as well as music, the arts and more.
“I think ‘Parasite’ was the best movie I’ve seen in the last year, but ‘Little Women’ and ‘Won’t You Be My Neighbor’ were my favorites,” Ewing said.
“I was in a production of ‘Little Women’ in high school drama, so I loved seeing it coming to life. And with the Mister Rogers movie, I knew all the songs because my mom had the “Mister Rogers’ Songbook.”
“So of course I took her to see the movie, and it was a great experience.”
But what movie scared him into hiding? What movie made him “cry ugly,” as he said?
For this recurring series of stories, we asked Ewing about all his movie favorites, and he told us how much he loves sharing the cinema experience with other members of his family, too.
What is your favorite movie of all time and why?
“The English Patient.” Just kidding. That movie was garbage. “Dead Poet’s Society” is my all-time favorite. It inspired me to fall in love with literature, education, theater and the genius of Robin Williams. I’m a movie guy, (and) that movie has impacted me the most. I majored in college in literature. I went to college to become an English teacher.
What is the funniest movie you’ve ever seen and why?
“Crazy People” with Dudley Moore cracks me up every time. The underrated 1980s movie explored a new take on advertising by creating a line of commercials for popular brands. As a youngster who believed parody to be the highest form of comedy, this movie hit all the marks. Hilarious.
What is the movie that scared you and why?
“Fright Night” scared the life out of me. I saw this movie at a neighbor’s house when I was like 7 years old. I’m sure my parents had no idea and wouldn’t have approved if they had. I remember being so scared I went into a bedroom and hid under the bed. I haven’t seen it since. It may be cheesy and lame and not scary at all but as a kid, it was terrifying.
What is the movie that makes you cry, and why?
I saw “Toy Story 3” with my son and cried ugly in the theater. Something about contemplating my kids growing up just hit me hard. It was a spectacle. I was a disaster. (It was 2010), so my son was 3, and it was just the two of us … the two of us crying at the end. But really, if you don’t cry at “Toy Story” movies, you don’t have a soul.
What is your favorite movie experience, maybe one you saw as a kid, or with friends in summer, or a midnight movie, and what made it so special?
I was 11 years old when “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade” came out in 1989. I saw it in the theater and it just absolutely captivated me. There was something about that particular time of my life and seeing the spectacle of Indiana Jones on the big screen. The adventure films of the ‘80s captured my soul. “Romancing the Stone,” “The Jewel of the Nile.” Indiana Jones movies and “The Goonies” are just a part of me. This makes me remember a picture of me with the whip and the Indiana Jones hat. I was very much the adventurous little kid, taking the maps out of a National Geographic and putting them in my satchel.
At the theater: where do you prefer to sit, and what are your refreshments of choice?
Right in the center of the theater. Half way up, middle of the row. Always Reese’s Pieces and popcorn with a large Diet Dr. Pepper. It’s the sweet one.
What old movie would you love to see on the big-screen, either again or for the first time?
It’s really hard to not choose “Star Wars.” I was born in 1978, so I was around to see “Return of the Jedi” in the theater, but I missed the first movie. I did see it when it was re-released in the ‘90s (as a “special edition”), but I want to see it in its original form.
What upcoming movie are you looking forward to seeing?
I’m very excited to see the new “Ghostbusters” film that’s set in Oklahoma and Marvel’s “Black Widow.” The quarantine just has me longing to see some big popcorn movies at the theater. I’m starting to have withdrawals. My boys and I go on opening night to all the Marvel and “Star Wars” films. I miss the movies, and the summer is so exciting for me because of movies. For Covid-19 to take that away has been devastating.
Do you have a favorite movie star whose movies have many times made you go to the theater because you like that person’s films so much?
Denzel Washington. Whatever the situation, I’m like “Oh, it’s a Denzel movie? Well, OK then.” He’s just great, whether it’s an action movie or he’s turning a Broadway play into an award-winning drama (like “Fences”), I’m there. I can watch him do it all.
Is there a director whose films you like so much that you will see any movie that they make?
I’ve always loved Guy Ritchie (“Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels,” “Snatch”) and Cameron Crowe (“Jerry Maguire,” “Elizabethtown”). Now I think that Taika Waititi is one of the best things to happen to filmmaking in a while. His “Thor: Ragnarok” is maybe the best Marvel movie, and last year, his movie “Jojo Rabbit”… . His stuff is just unashamedly funny, and it’s not forced. I love the hilarity and the sentimentality together with his movies.
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