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Opinion: Columnists

Films to watch when you're in pain

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Opinion,Movies,Gregory Kane,Columnists

I lost a day.

Actually, I lost two days. On Monday night, Jan. 13, around 10:30 p.m. or so, I walked into the emergency room of Baltimore’s Johns Hopkins Medical Center.

As of 9 p.m. on Jan. 26, I’m still in here.

It’s all part of my now-three-year-fight against cancer. I came in to get care for what I thought was affliction A, only to be treated for afflictions B and C.

So there I was, the morning of Jan. 17, listening to newscasts while fighting through pain.

“Muhammad Ali turns 72 today," a voice said.

That’s all I remember, until around 7 or 8 p.m. on Jan. 18, when I awoke to find my brother Mike lovingly clasping my right hand, assuring me that he was determined to be there whenever I awoke from whatever stupor I was in and that I would lick this cancer.

On Tuesday, Jan. 22, I underwent some very excruciatingly painful spinal surgery, which left me barely able to read, much less move. So writing columns was out.

It was then that I’d wished I’d popped a bunch of DVDs into a bag with a portable DVD player and brought them to the hospital with me. It would make for painful viewing, but viewing, nonetheless.

It was this experience that compelled me to write my very own “Must See DVDs To Watch When You’re In Excruciating Pain” list. These aren’t, as you might suspect, bad movies. Fact is, most are considered quite good.

AMC came through for me once again, running the "Godfather” trilogy. Yes, I know critics don’t think much of “The Godfather, Part III,” but that just makes the film all the more compelling viewing for me.

Besides, “The Godfather” is so brilliant it more than makes up for any shortcomings “Part III” might have.

AMC is also usually the channel that comes through with viewings of Clint Eastwood’s anti-Western “Unforgiven.” This is the film in which Eastwood pillories and pricks every stereotype known to the Western genre.

Eastwood’s “hero,” one William Munny, is no hero at all. Rather, he’s a “known thief and murderer, a man of notoriously vicious and intemperate disposition." He’s absolutely useless when it comes to hitting the broad side of a barn with a handgun and can barely mount his horse.

The “villains” in “Unforgiven” are more heroic than villainous; the so-called miscreants make for much more complex characters.

Interesting stuff to ponder, I suppose, when you’re in agonizing pain.

And, in case you haven’t noticed the pattern by now, it’s AMC to the rescue once again with the final two movies on the list: “The Green Mile” and “The Shawshank Redemption.”

These films have quite a bit in common: Each was adapted from a Stephen King story, each is set in a prison and each has as least one African-American protagonist.

The similarities end there. “Shawshank” is the far more secular movie, with Andy Dufresne seeking to escape a cruel prison system that has unjustly captured his body, but not his mind.

“The Green Mile” soars to the level of the spiritual, with the late Michael Clarke Duncan superbly portraying an unjustly convicted death-row inmate whose healing powers astound, confound and bewilder the corrections officers who will soon be pulling the plug on his life.

I had to rely on AMC to help me out with the "Godfather” trilogy, but I had to bring in “Shawshank” and “Green Mile” from my home library. (No, I haven’t quite caught on to the Netflix thing yet.)

But who knew there are films that can sill make for entertaining viewing even when the viewer is in a great deal of pain?

GREGORY KANE, a Washington Examiner columnist, is a Pulitzer Prize-nominated news and opinion journalist who has covered people and politics from Baltimore to the Sudan.
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