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The Favorite Movies of 42 Famous People

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Presidents & Politicians

What's with presidents and High Noon?

1. Barack Obama -- The Godfather (1972) and The Godfather: Part II (1974)
When Katie Couric asked then-presidential-candidate Barack Obama what his favorite movie is, he replied, "Oh, I think it would have to be The Godfather. One and Two. Three not so much. That saga -- I love that movie. ...I think my favorite has to be, the opening scene of the first Godfather... It sets the tone for the whole movie."

2. Ronald Reagan -- High Noon (1952)
Reagan appreciated Will Kane's dedication to duty and law. (Reagan's also rumored to have been a fan of the 1946 film It's a Wonderful Life.)

3. Richard Nixon -- Patton (1970)
Nixon's preference for Patton was mentioned in a 1960 1970 TIME article: "The martial epic Patton so stirs Richard Nixon that he has seen the film at least twice." According to American Experience: Nixon on PBS, "Richard Nixon loved the movie Patton and watched it again and again in the White House." The Telegraph reported that Nixon "urged aides to see the film and became, in the words of Secretary of State William Rogers, a 'walking ad' for it. He screened it three times in the weeks before the US invasion of Cambodia in April 1970..." Nixon's love for Patton was also mentioned in Woodward and Bernstein's 2005 book, The Final Days.

4. Bill Clinton -- High Noon (1952)
Clinton was such a fan of the Western that he apparently screened the film a record 17 times at the White House.

5. George W. Bush -- Field of Dreams (1989)
According to a May 2001 article in The Atlantic, "Bush's favorite movie is Field of Dreams, which made him cry, he once said, because it reminded him of playing catch in the back yard with his father—a pretty fair ballplayer himself once."

6. Dwight Eisenhower -- High Noon (1952)
Eisenhower was reportedly a big fan of the movie, screening it several times at the White House (though not quite as many times as Clinton).

7. John McCain -- Viva Zapata! (1952)
During his presidential campaign, John McCain was asked about his favorite film by Katie Couric. His response: "Viva Zapata. ...It's a heroic tale of a person who sacrificed everything for what he believed in and there's some of the most moving scenes in that movie that I've ever seen."

8. Mitt Romney -- Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) and O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000)
Romney lists these two films as his favorites on his Facebook page, followed by Star Wars and Henry V.

9. Dan Quayle -- Ferris Bueller's Day Off (1986)
During the 1990 presidential campaign, Quayle declared Ferris Bueller his favorite movie, with the explanation, "It reminded me of my time in school."

10. Newt Gingrich -- Casablanca (1943)
When asked his favorite movie, Gingrich told the Washington Times, "Probably Casablanca."

11. Rick Santorum -- Field of Dreams (1989)
Apparently Santorum has many favorites, but, when put on the spot by the Washington Times in 2011, he named the baseball classic his favorite.

Singers & Musicians

12. Justin Bieber -- Step Brothers (2008)
In 2010, Bieber provided US Weekly with a list of "25 Things You Don't Know About Me." #17: "Step Brothers is my favorite movie."

13. Jennifer Lopez -- West Side Story (1961)
During a West Side Story-themed photo shoot for Vanity Fair in 2009, Lopez revealed that she watched the classic musical "37 times" growing up. She identifies with Anita, explaining: "I never wanted to be that wimpy Maria... I wanted to be Anita, who danced her way to the top."

14. George Harrison -- The Producers (1968)
Harrison reportedly liked the film so much that it inspired him to become a producer himself.

Actors & Actresses

Interestingly, I have never met or heard of an actor or actress choosing one of their own films as their all-time favorite.

15. Johnny Depp -- The Wizard of Oz (1939)
Explained Depp: "I wanted to have a tornado sweep me up and take me away from the life I was living as a teenager."

16. John Travolta -- A Man And A Woman (1966)
IMDb.com lists Travolta's favorite movie as A Man And A Woman, also noting that he was partial to Yankee Doodle Dandy (1946) as a child.

17. Heath Ledger -- The Wizard of Oz (1939)
Ledger favored the classic film because, he stated, "It was the only film my parents allowed me to see as a kid."

18. Tom Hanks -- 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
Hanks has frequently discussed his love for Kubrick's classic, including at a forum for the film's 40th anniversary, where he said of the movie, "You can look at it over and over and ponder its meaning." According to a Tom Hanks fan site, the actor has seen 2001 approximately 40 times.

19. Bill Paxton -- Splendor in the Grass (1961) and Harold and Maude (1971)
In a 2006 interview with TV Guide, Paxton said, "You've got to understand something about me and my career: I'm a romantic in life philosophy, in how I look at the world, the beauty of nature, of relationships. But I never got to do those roles. In my twenties, I wanted to be in a Splendor in the Grass." Paxton listed both Splendor in the Grass and Harold and Maude for Cindy Pearlman's 2007 book You Gotta See This.

20. Salma Hayek -- Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory (1971)
The "Times Topics" page for Hayek at The New York Times website reports: "At 6, she was smitten with acting after seeing Willie [sic] Wonka and the Chocolate Factory."

21. Vin Diesel -- Gone With The Wind (1939)
In 2006, ELLE asked Diesel, "Have you ever watched a movie and identified with a character romantically?" The actor replied, "Clark Gable in Gone With the Wind. Here's this guy saying, 'I may be rough around the edges, but I'm the better man for you, and you're still locked over there with pretty boy.'" He also listed it as his favorite movie for Pearlman's You Gotta See This.

22. Tim Allen -- The Seven Samurai (1954)
AFI interviewed celebrities about their films in a lead-up to their "100 Years, 100 Movies" event in 2007. In his interview, Allen named The Seven Samurai as his favorite.

23. Lindsey Lohan -- Kitten With a Whip (1964) and Bye Bye Birdie (1963)
In 2008, Lindsay told PAPERMAG, "[Marilyn Monroe] had something that captured people. That’s the part that I love about her... I look to her in The Seven Year Itch, just like I look to Ann-Margret in Kitten With a Whip, which is one of my favorite movies, and which I’m actually trying to remake." For Pearlman's You Gotta See This, Lohan reiterated her love of Kitten With a Whip and added, "And I also love Bye Bye Birdie."

24. Owen Wilson -- Punch Drunk Love (2002) and The Insider (1999)
Wilson reportedly stated, "I loved Punch-Drunk Love. It revved me up to write something. It's a simple story, but it proves it's all in the details." He also told Glen Whipp of the Los Angeles Daily News, "I loved Punch-Drunk Love, The Insider and United 93."

25. Antonio Banderas -- Touch of Evil (1958) and The Magnificent Ambersons (1942)
Banderas is an Orson Welles fan. He listed Touch of Evil as one of his 5 favorite films (as well as the ever-popular Lawrence of Arabia and The Godfather) for Rotten Tomatoes, and he listed it again for Pearlman's You Gotta See This, along with another Welles film, The Magnificent Ambersons.

26. Julianne Moore -- Rosemary's Baby (1968)
For the New York Times' "Watching the Movies With" feature, Moore picked Rosemary's Baby, stating, "This is the first movie that came to mind when I thought of what I wanted to watch," and "Wow, I love the beginning of this movie."

27. Charlize Theron -- I Could Go On Singing (1963)
For You Gotta See This, Theron told Pearlman that I Could Go On Singing is "the best movie I've ever seen," and then said--twice--"It's my favorite film of all time."

28. Shia Lebouf -- Saving Silverman (2001) and Dumb & Dumber (1994)
IMDb.com lists the two comedies as Lebouf's favorite films.

29. Richard Gere -- The Passenger (1975)
For You Gotta See This, Gere told Pearlman that The Passenger "has always been" one of his favorites.

30. Dennis Miller -- A Man For All Seasons (1966)
Miller has discussed A Man For All Seasons on "The Dennis Miller Show." He also mentioned it in an appearance on "The O'Reilly Factor" in 2008 -- "My favorite film of all time is probably A Man for All Seasons."

31. Uma Thurman -- Pillow Talk (1959)
For Pearlman's You Gotta See This, Thurman revealed her favorite, explaining: "All my life I wanted to be Doris Day. One of my favorites is Pillow Talk. It’s a light, breezy romp of a film that’s so much fun to watch. I love that Doris didn’t play anyone but herself in her movies."

32. Morgan Freeman -- Moulin Rouge (2001)
In 2005, Freeman was quizzed on his favorites by IGN. For movie, he responded: "My favorite movie that I didn't work on? Moulin Rouge. I just think that movie is fabulous." Six years later, he repeated the favorite to the Rotten Tomatoes staff, stating, "I think one of the best movies ever made was Baz Luhrmann's Moulin Rouge! It was just an extraordinarily well done film. Editing, directing, costuming -- just everything about it was perfect." He also listed King Kong (1933), High Noon (1952), The Outlaw Josey Wales (1976), and Moby Dick (1956).

33. David Duchovny -- Chinatown (1974)
The Rotten Tomatoes staff interviewed Duchovny about his favorite films in April; he replied, "I'm gonna say Chinatown. That's just great storytelling, acting, directing. I think Polanski's an amazing director." He also listed The Godfather (1972), The Godfather: Part II (1974), Annie Hall (1977), and Oldboy (2003).

34. Reese Witherspoon -- Overboard (1987)
Witherspoon disclosed this factoid during the 84th Annual Academy Awards telecast earlier this year.

35. Dennis Quaid -- Lawrence of Arabia (1962)
Discussing David Lean, the director of Lawrence of Arabia, Quaid said, "He's always been my favourite director. Lawrence of Arabia is my favourite movie of all time."

36. Vince Vaughn -- Tender Mercies (1983) and The Bad News Bears (1976)
For Pearlman's You Gotta See This, Vaughn disclosed these two favorites, stating: "Tender Mercies is a film that I love very much because it's very simple storytelling," and "The Bad News Bears is my favorite comedy. I saw that movie as a child, and there was something very real about that movie in that it seemed to be an honest portrayal of people." He also reportedly once told Premiere magazine that Little Darlings (1980) was also a favorite.

37. Seth MacFarlane -- The Sound of Music (1964)
When interviewed by IGN in 2003, MacFarlane was asked what his favorite film is. His answer: "I gotta give it to The Sound of Music. I'm sorry. I know that's, like, a lame answer, but I f***in' love The Sound of Music. It's The Sound of Music... It's not like it's some obscure independent film. There are those who would be expecting me to say Caddyshack – which is number two..."

38. Orson Welles -- City Lights (1931)
Of the Chaplin film, Welles once said, "...but you must see City Lights... You’ll see Chaplin in City Lights."

& More...

39. Steven Spielberg -- Lawrence of Arabia (1962)
Spielberg helped restore the film for a 2000 DVD release; in the accompanying documentary, "A Conversation with Steven Spielberg," the director discusses the impact the movie had on his life and why it's his favorite film.

40. Thomas Edison -- Birth of a Nation (1915)
When asked about his favorite movie in a February 1930 interview with American Magazine, Edison replied, "Let’s see now–what’s the name of it? Oh yes, I remember–The Birth of a Nation, that great picture Griffith made. But who cares?"

41. Roger Ebert -- La Dolce Vita (1960)
In a 2008 column for The Chicago Sun-Times, the critic asked himself, "What is my favorite film?" The answer: "Right now, this moment, the answer that would spring most quickly to mind is Fellini's La Dolce Vita (1960). I've seen it, oh, at least 25 times, maybe more. It doesn't get old for me. ...I've grown so worked up just writing this paragraph that I want to slide in the DVD and start watching immediately. "

42. Michael Phelps -- Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery (1997)
Of Austin Powers, Phelps has said, "It’s still as funny as it was when it was released."
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So, what's your favorite?

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iStock // Ekaterina Minaeva
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Man Buys Two Metric Tons of LEGO Bricks; Sorts Them Via Machine Learning
May 21, 2017
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iStock // Ekaterina Minaeva

Jacques Mattheij made a small, but awesome, mistake. He went on eBay one evening and bid on a bunch of bulk LEGO brick auctions, then went to sleep. Upon waking, he discovered that he was the high bidder on many, and was now the proud owner of two tons of LEGO bricks. (This is about 4400 pounds.) He wrote, "[L]esson 1: if you win almost all bids you are bidding too high."

Mattheij had noticed that bulk, unsorted bricks sell for something like €10/kilogram, whereas sets are roughly €40/kg and rare parts go for up to €100/kg. Much of the value of the bricks is in their sorting. If he could reduce the entropy of these bins of unsorted bricks, he could make a tidy profit. While many people do this work by hand, the problem is enormous—just the kind of challenge for a computer. Mattheij writes:

There are 38000+ shapes and there are 100+ possible shades of color (you can roughly tell how old someone is by asking them what lego colors they remember from their youth).

In the following months, Mattheij built a proof-of-concept sorting system using, of course, LEGO. He broke the problem down into a series of sub-problems (including "feeding LEGO reliably from a hopper is surprisingly hard," one of those facts of nature that will stymie even the best system design). After tinkering with the prototype at length, he expanded the system to a surprisingly complex system of conveyer belts (powered by a home treadmill), various pieces of cabinetry, and "copious quantities of crazy glue."

Here's a video showing the current system running at low speed:

The key part of the system was running the bricks past a camera paired with a computer running a neural net-based image classifier. That allows the computer (when sufficiently trained on brick images) to recognize bricks and thus categorize them by color, shape, or other parameters. Remember that as bricks pass by, they can be in any orientation, can be dirty, can even be stuck to other pieces. So having a flexible software system is key to recognizing—in a fraction of a second—what a given brick is, in order to sort it out. When a match is found, a jet of compressed air pops the piece off the conveyer belt and into a waiting bin.

After much experimentation, Mattheij rewrote the software (several times in fact) to accomplish a variety of basic tasks. At its core, the system takes images from a webcam and feeds them to a neural network to do the classification. Of course, the neural net needs to be "trained" by showing it lots of images, and telling it what those images represent. Mattheij's breakthrough was allowing the machine to effectively train itself, with guidance: Running pieces through allows the system to take its own photos, make a guess, and build on that guess. As long as Mattheij corrects the incorrect guesses, he ends up with a decent (and self-reinforcing) corpus of training data. As the machine continues running, it can rack up more training, allowing it to recognize a broad variety of pieces on the fly.

Here's another video, focusing on how the pieces move on conveyer belts (running at slow speed so puny humans can follow). You can also see the air jets in action:

In an email interview, Mattheij told Mental Floss that the system currently sorts LEGO bricks into more than 50 categories. It can also be run in a color-sorting mode to bin the parts across 12 color groups. (Thus at present you'd likely do a two-pass sort on the bricks: once for shape, then a separate pass for color.) He continues to refine the system, with a focus on making its recognition abilities faster. At some point down the line, he plans to make the software portion open source. You're on your own as far as building conveyer belts, bins, and so forth.

Check out Mattheij's writeup in two parts for more information. It starts with an overview of the story, followed up with a deep dive on the software. He's also tweeting about the project (among other things). And if you look around a bit, you'll find bulk LEGO brick auctions online—it's definitely a thing!

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Opening Ceremony
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These $425 Jeans Can Turn Into Jorts
May 19, 2017
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Opening Ceremony

Modular clothing used to consist of something simple, like a reversible jacket. Today, it’s a $425 pair of detachable jeans.

Apparel retailer Opening Ceremony recently debuted a pair of “2 in 1 Y/Project” trousers that look fairly peculiar. The legs are held to the crotch by a pair of loops, creating a disjointed C-3PO effect. Undo the loops and you can now remove the legs entirely, leaving a pair of jean shorts in their wake. The result goes from this:

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Opening Ceremony

To this:

501069-OpeningCeremony3.jpg

Opening Ceremony

The company also offers a slightly different cut with button tabs in black for $460. If these aren’t audacious enough for you, the Y/Project line includes jumpsuits with removable legs and garter-equipped jeans.

[h/t Mashable]

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