Mike Fisher – Movies and the Masses

Friday, January 29, 2010 at 1:46 pm

Mike Fisher joins us as this week’s guest on Movies and the Masses, and any sports fan should immediately recognize the name.  He’s a certifiable legend in the Dallas/Fort Worth area, and his writing continues to amuse and inform after nearly three decades as a professional journalist.  Just in case you number among the uninformed, here’s even more about our distinguished guest.

Mike Fisher — “The Fish” — runs DallasBasketball.com, the most popular independent NBA team website in the world. Fisher worked for a decade as a sports columnist at the Fort Worth Star-Telegram and has 15 years of radio talk-show experience. He’s now a host on ESPN Radio in Dallas.

DallasBasketball.com and Mike Fisher have appeared, been linked to or mentioned…well, everywhere. From ESPN to Sports Illustrated to FOX to Yahoo to Deadspin to D Magazine to the Dallas Morning News to the Wall Street Journal to SLAM magazine to The New York Times to People magazine, DB.com’s footprints are pretty much everywhere.  Mike Fisher has 28 years of experience in journalism, is the author of two regional best-selling books on the Dallas Cowboys, and covers the Cowboys at Blogging the Boys.

In recent years, Alexa.com and similar sites have ranked DallasBasketball.com in the top 70,000 most popular websites in the world (and that’s not even counting the traffic on DB.com Boards). DB.com is included on dozens of “Best of the Web’’ honor rolls.

Fish has received numerous awards in the field of sports journalism. He’s won dozens of writing awards (AP Story of the Year, Best of Gannett), in 1995 was named DFW Radio Newcomer of the Year and in 1997 was named DFW Radio Personality of the Year. You can follow his coverage of Dallas sports and the sports social scene at the official Mike Fisher Twitter page.

Now that we know a little bit more about Mike Fisher, let’s dive right into the questions. From his dislike for Nicolas Cage to a bizarre multiplex encounter with a pervert, Mike has all manner of interesting tales to tell.

Mike Fisher

Only Good Movies: What’s the first movie you remember seeing?
Mike Fisher: I’ll tell you the first movie I ever saw in a theater by myself: Shaft. Richard Roundtree in the blacksploitation classic…black men and women writhing around naked in a bathtub, as I recall. It was 1971, so I was 10 or 11. My parents were liberal, I guess – or else deserving of a call from Child Protective Services.

OGM: If you only had a few hours to live and could do nothing but watch five movies, which films would you select?
MF: I’d probably waste all my “few hours” attempting to narrow the choices to five! Let’s try this in two categories, one for “excellence,” the other for “mood enhancement/setting.”



OGM: What’s your favorite movie?
MF: This isn’t like picking your favorite sports team — that comes from one place (your geography or your dad) and it sticks forever (or it should). I think it’s OK for this to be fluid. I also think it’s OK for “favorite” to take on a variety of definitions. By most of those definitions, I think The Godfather is No. 1. It’s quality, it’s deep, it’s legendary, it’s beautiful, and it’s a crowd-pleaser. It’s one of those movies that, when I am flipping through TV channels and see it’s on, I stay on that channel.

But I reserve the right to change my mind.

OGM: What’s your least favorite movie?
MF: I’m bothered by a few things: Formulaic movies that use bad formulas. So many romantic comedies are painfully predictable. Why see Leap Year and When in Rome when I already saw The Proposal? Why even make those three movies? I’m a man, so I know I’m not the target audience, but I’m completely capable of having a good cry. Love is funny and there are a zillion ways to fall in love and be in love, and we can all relate…so why aren’t there a zillion stories to tell rather than the one?

And then there’s anything that Nicolas Cage is in. I don’t get him. I don’t find him attractive or interesting and it sure doesn’t seem like he’s trying very hard.

So, formulaic romantic comedies and Nic Cage movies. Put ‘em together and you have my least favorite movie.  But I’m now thinking of going back and giving Moonstruck one more try.

OGM: Do you subscribe to an online rental service like Netflix or Blockbuster Online? Why or why not?
MF: Oh yeah. Netflix. It’s a stroke of genius for them. And it forces me to make an appointment with my movie. It’s like getting a wrapped Christmas gift; you can’t just let that envelope go unopened!

OGM: In 50 years, which modern movies do you think will be viewed as classics?
MF: Let’s do films of this decade, and let me list a few I HOPE will have legs: TrafficMementoThe Dark KnightThe Lord of the RingsAlmost Famous.

OGM: If you see a movie based on a book, are you then more or less likely to read the book?
MF: More likely, and on top of that – I assume we all do this, right? – I catch myself watching the movie and then imagining what a book is/would be like. Seeing how the writer/screenwriter will transform the story fascinates me. You’d think the flip-flopping of life-imitating-art-imitating-life would get redundant, but look at In Cold Blood: from book to movie to two recent movies about Truman Capote – and both recent movies smart and well-done yet offering different perceptions.

OGM: Who’s your favorite celebrity?
MF: De Niro (weird; you are always aware it’s him, yet his skills make him a chameleon) and George Clooney. Clooney’s professional choices are interesting, his personal choices are fearless, and – as far as we know as moviegoers – he represents a perfect bridge from Old Hollywood.

OGM: Is there any actor or actress whose movies you actively avoid?
MF: In addition to Nic Cage: Vin Diesel, Ashton Kutcher, and, all of a sudden, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. I know they are raking in the dough, those three guys. But don’t they bore themselves? Does Dwayne Johnson pay to see Dwayne Johnson movies?

Mike Fisher

OGM: How do you feel about all the remakes of older and classic films?
MF: There’s nothing new under the sun, so a “re-imagining” of a film is fine…though if I represented a studio, I might make the goal to make sure my remake is, in some way, better. The best example I can think of where the proper approach went all wrong: The remake of Psycho (with Vince Vaughn in Anthony Perkins’ place?!) … a shot-by-shot imitation of Hitchcock’s original.

I can think of a dozen ways to re-imagine Psycho that would be worthy of greenlighting: Other visitors Norman has murdered, Norman as a child, the whole movie as seen through Mother…but for Van Sant to simply mimic the original…what was satisfying about it?

OGM: Which actor or actress do you find most attractive?
MF: Cast George Clooney and Halle Berry together and I’m in.

OGM: Do you read movie reviews? If so, which critics do you read most often, and why do you like them?
MF: Roger Ebert is head-and-shoulders above the rest, and here’s why: He is both a student of the art of film (or rather, a professor) and a populist who understands the popcorn fun of movies. He’s a wonderful writer…and I think most of his critics/rivals are actually poor imitations of Mr. Ebert himself.

OGM: What type of people annoy you when going to a movie theater?
MF: The moviegoer who talks to the characters, forgetting that he’s not in his own living room, is irritating. So is the guy who, in a relatively empty theater, decides he simply must sit in a row right in front of me…in a chair that is being used by my feet as an ottoman.

But here’s the worst: I was once in a mid-day showing, all by myself, sitting alone in the dark, when another guy entered the theater. He sat in my row. I’m far –left aisle, he’s far-right aisle. The trailers start rolling…and this guy gets up and stars sliding to his left, nearer me…he sits down in the middle…gets up again…and comes and sits right next to me…and starts “heavy-breathing” me.

Now, in retrospect, we all say, “Oh, I woulda punched him!” But that wasn’t a functional approach. So instead, I kinda screamed, “Get the fuck away from me!” A couple of ushers came…escorted him out. What made it all the more creepy was the movie I had happened to pick, rather randomly, just to fit my schedule: Boogie Nights.

OGM: Do you consider movies to be works of art?
MF: No doubt, and I would argue that movies and TV and radio and online stuff has the exact same value of books or paintings or sculpture in this sense: They are all just mediums. They are all canvases. Books are not inherently smarter than movies or TV.

It’s not the medium; it’s the artist.

OGM: What type of candy or drink do you consider essential to your movie watching experience?
MF: A big bag of popcorn. And then, if somehow I can sneak a Diet Coke into the theater without having to pay for it, it’s really a win-win.

As long as it’s not a Nicolas Cage movie.


Many thanks to Mike Fisher for taking part in this edition of Movies and the Masses. Be sure to support our guests by visiting their sites. In this case, that would be DallasBasketball.com and BloggingtheBoys.com. If you’re a fan of the Mavericks, Cowboys, or sports in general, you’ll be glad you did.

And on a final note, you can visit Amazon to buy all the movies listed above. Sure, we’ll get a small commission for sending you there, but you can’t blame a guy for trying to make a few extra bucks.

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