Archive for the ‘Pop Culture’ Category

My Thoughts on the 2012 Oscar Nominations

February 2, 2012

The Academy Awards nominations were announced on January 24, 2012 and here are the nominees for Best Picture:

The Artist
The Descendants
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close
The Help
Hugo
Midnight in Paris
Moneyball
The Tree of Life
War Horse

If you want to see the entire list of nominees, you can read them here: http://www.movieweb.com/news/84th-annual-academy-awards-nominations

Now for my thoughts on the subject:

Then There Were Nine
This is the third year in a row that more than five films are up for Best Picture and I’ve grown to be not so crazy about the idea. If the Academy is going to expand one category, then it should expand the other categories, like Best Director, Best Actor/Actress, etc. Especially for an award like Best Picture, which is an icing-on-the-cake type of award. I feel that if your film has been nominated for Best Picture, it should have a few other awards, too. While films on the list are up for other awards, only two on the list are up for both Best Director and Best Actor (The Artist and The Descendants). This year none of the films in the Best Picture nominees have the quadruple nods of Best Film, Best Director, Best Actor, and Best Actress. Getting all those nominations gives a film a cache of respectability, as well as, bragging rights of “Look how great we are.” So, I say either expand all the categories or shrink the Best Film category back to five.

“The winner is…”
I predict that Meryl Streep will win for Best Actress, The Artist will either win for Best Film or Best Director and George Clooney will squeak by with Best Actor. What makes me say those things? Simple:

1.)   Meryl Streep is due for a win. While she has been nominated 17 times, she only won twice (1980 for Kramer vs. Kramer and in 1983 for Sophie’s Choice). So, how about giving her an award for portraying a powerful woman like Margaret Thatcher.

2.)   The Artist is an artsy and nostalgia piece and the Academy loves to award art and nostalgia films as if to say, “See, things were great back then. People cared about art and so do we.” Never mind the fact that the same tension between art and commerce existed “back then” as it does now.

3.)   George Clooney’s character in The Descendants isn’t some “I’m so handsome/smart/cool” type of character. Rather he plays a widowed dad who is trying to raise his kids and keep the ancestral home from being bought by real estate developers. Maybe the Academy will reward him with an Oscar. Yet, he is up against Jean Dujardin from The Artist. So it’s an actor in an art and nostalgia film versus an actor who’s known for playing “I’m so handsome/smart/cool” types, this time not playing such a type and getting an Oscar nomination for it. Hmmm, it will be close.

And Now A Word About The Host
When I learned that Eddie Murphy would be the host of the Academy Awards, I was so happy. Finally, a host who knows how to play for laughs. While Anne Hathaway was great at last year’s show, James Franco was just there. Then came the news that Murphy left when the telecast’s producer, Brett Ratner, left. I thought, “Oh no, the show’s going to suck.” When I heard that Billy Crystal would be the host, I breathed a sigh of relief. I’ve seen him host the show before and he knows what he is doing. He’s funny and moves the telecast along. So, my fears of a host who just shows up and nothing more were, thankfully, unfounded.

The 84th Annual Academy Awards will be broadcast on the American Broadcasting Company (ABC) on February 26, 2012. To learn more about the Academy Awards go to: http://oscar.go.com/

Sources:
http://www.movieweb.com/news/84th-annual-academy-awards-nominations
http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0000658/awards

Lost and Found

January 26, 2012

Not too long ago, I learned that an animated version of The Hobbit, J.R.R. Tolken’s prequel to Lord of the Ring was found. This version is over 11 minutes long and dates from 1966. It was designed by Czech illustrator Adolf Born and was written and directed by Tom and Jerry animator Gene Deitch and you can watch it here:

As you can guess, this discovery got me thinking about other lost and found films. There are many films, most from the early days of motion pictures that have become lost, either through neglect, accident or the nitrates ate away at the film and there is nothing left to watch. There are also many films that were, and still are, languishing in a closet somewhere, only to be found when someone knocks something over or lifts up a box.  So, I have put together a list of some films that are lost and some films that were found.

Lost
The Story of the Kelly Gang
(1906)
This film tells the tale of Australia’s most famous criminal or “bushranger” Ned Kelly. Directed by Melbourne native Charles Tait, the film was a popular and critical success and lead to a succession of bushranger films. Soon these type of films were banned in several Australian states because they romanticized crime and criminals. Unfortunately, at the turn of the 20th century, studios didn’t realize the historical significance of saving a film, like The Story of the Kelly Gang. So, there was no procedure put in place to preserve these films for future generations, hence it became lost. Still, the film has not entirely disappeared. Nine minutes of footage was found in a deserted house in 1979 and just before the film’s 100th anniversary, Australia’s National Film and Sound Archive contacted archives around the world in regards to the film. As it turned out, the British Film Institute had an incomplete film labeled “Kelly Gang,” and it contained more footage of the film. While, it is far from complete, there was enough footage to get a feel for the film and that was added to a DVD of the film.

Humorisk (or Humor Risk) (1920s)
Would you believe that the Marx Brothers made a silent film? Yes, it is true. In fact, it was their first film and they played different characters to the ones that they became famous for. Reports are that Groucho didn’t like this film, so he purchased it and destroyed all prints and negatives. Ouch! That’s taking the killing of your darlings to extremes.

Catch My Soul (1974)
Conventional wisdom states that most of the films that became lost were from the early years of the 20th century. For the most part that’s true, the exception is Catch My Soul. This is a rock opera based on Shakespeare’s Othello and has folk singer Richie Haven as the lead. The film was directed by Patrick McGoohan, who was the lead actor in the famous television show of the 1960’s The Prisoner. The film got poor reviews and one critic said that it was “pricelessly funny” without meaning to be, since it was dramatic film. Wait, it gets worse. According to McGoohan, one of the producers found religion and added 15 minutes of religious material to the film. McGoohan didn’t like that and tried to have his name removed from the credits. The next year it was re-titled as Santa Fe Satan and then it disappeared. So, check your closets and attics, keep an eye open at flea markets and while checking out stuff on eBay, because a print of this film might show up in those places.

Found
Cléopâtre
  (1899)
No, this is not the one with Liz and Dick. This is a French film and the earliest horror film made. This film deals with the re-animated mummy of Cleopatra and the havoc she creates. It was thought to be lost until 2005 when a print of the film was found. So, now the French film canon includes more than just chain smokers who discuss the meaning of life in sidewalk cafes.

Richard III (1912)
This is a film adaptation of the Shakespeare play of the same name and is considered the oldest American feature film in existence. It featured the, then, famous actress Sarah Bernhardt. This film was thought lost until 1996 when a high quality print was found.

Metropolis  (1927)
This film wasn’t lost like the other films mentioned. Rather, after it’s premiere in Berlin, the film was cut from its original 153 minutes to 90 minutes. Restoration was done in 2001 with combined footage from several archives and that brought the film up to 124 minutes. That version was considered to be the most complete version until 2008 when a 16 mm negative was found in, of all places, Buenos Aires. This negative contained 25 minutes of lost footage. This footage was integrated with the 2001 version in 2010 and now the film is as close to director Fritz Lang’s original version of the film as possible.

The lost and found films mentioned in this blog entry demonstrate the importance of archiving films. After all, whether a film becomes a classic or a flop, it is part of the historical record of the studio that made it, so it needs to be saved for future generations. It also demonstrates the importance of keeping track of your own stuff. After all, if you lose your stamp, coin or baseball card collection, do you think the Smithsonian Institute will help you find it?

Of course, it you have any information about the lost films mentioned in this blog entry, please contact the following film archives: 

Australia
National Film and Sound Archive of Australia
McCoy Circuit, Acton ACT 2601
GPO Box 2002,Canberra ACT 2601
Email: enquiries@nfsa.gov.au
http://nfsa.gov.au

USA
National Film Preservation Board
Library of Congress (4690)
Motion Picture, Broadcasting & Recorded Sound Division
101 Independence Avenue SE
Washington DC 20540
Attn: Steve Leggett, Staff Coordinator
Email: sleg@loc.gov
http://www.loc.gov/film/

The author would like to thank Gene Deitch for his assistance with this blog entry.

Sources:
http://www.movieweb.com/news/the-hobbit-long-lost-animated-short-discovered

http://www.screenjunkies.com/movies/movie-lists/9-famous-lost-films-that-have-been-rediscovered/

http://www.mentalfloss.com/blogs/archives/70351

http://www.kino.com/metropolis/restoration.html#rest

The More Things Change…

January 19, 2012

The more blog ideas I get.  Two items on the Internet inspired this entry.  They are:

The Historical Fact
On December 28, 1895, the first commercially screened movie was shown in the Grand Café in Paris. The film, called Workers Leaving the Lumiere Factory, is 46 seconds long and shows people leaving the Lumiere factory in Lyon, France. The film was screened by Auguste and Louis Lumiere (their father owned the factory) and people actually paid to see this, along with other short films, created by the Lumiere brothers.

The Recent Development
The December 27, 2011 entry of Entertainment Weekly’s Popwatch blog was a part lament/part rant about the demise of the video rental store. What lead to this article was that the author wanted to rent Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion and she couldn’t find it anywhere. So, she was stuck with downloading it from iTunes. (The horror!)

My Two Cents
Regarding the first movie shown to a paying audience, everything has a beginning and movies are no exception. Yes, the act of going to see a motion picture began in a humble Parisian cafe. I saw the film (Thank you, You Tube) and while it doesn’t compare Hollywood’s current output, it is worth a lot as a historical document. Imagine being a patron of the Grand Café. A poster advertising a new attraction piques your interest. You go in, pay admission and see something you have never seen before, namely, moving images on a wall. We in the early 21st century take it for granted that there are motion pictures. In late 19th century Paris, motion pictures, even if all they do is show people leaving factory, were an amazing new sight to behold. Attached is the film, let me know what you think of it.

Now for the endings part of this blog entry. Thanks to Netflix, DVD vending machines and the Internet, the end of the video rental store is coming.  Yes, for whatever reason there will be some holdouts that survive because they serve a niche in their community. Still, trend is to get videos from a source other than a bricks and mortar store. On the one hand that is good, because the choice is in consumer’s hands and in the case of Netflix and the Internet, they have more items than can ever be found in a bricks and mortar store.

On the other hand, searching for something on the Internet or just viewing the selections from a DVD vending machine, seems so sterile. I can remember going to a Tower Records & Video (RIP) near my house to rent a movie and not having any idea what to rent until I actually found something after browsing the aisles for at least 15 minutes. While that happens with the Internet, there’s no sense of adventure when what you want is right at your fingertips. As for vending machines, they are limited to 20 to 40 titles of the most recent releases or straight to video duds. While it is great to rent the latest Harry Potter film from one of these machines, noticing that Piranha 3DD is listed below right below it doesn’t enhance the experience—at least it doesn’t for me.

Still, who would have thought in 1895 that there would be computer-animated films, films made with motion capture technology and even just films made in color and having spoken dialogue and other sounds. In addition, who would have thought in 1995 that video stores would be replaced by Netflix, vending machines and the Internet. Of course, time marches on and things evolve and change. So, who knows what entertainment or other wonders that tech heads will dream up and create. Whatever comes next, it is good to have a sense of appreciation for what is and a sense of wonder for is to come. Believe it or not, there was a time when even cable television didn’t exist. Now there are over a hundred channels available to those who subscribe to service and people actually complain about “…nothing good being on TV.”

Sources:

http://blogs.suntimes.com/ebert/the-birthday-of-the-movies.html

http://www.earlycinema.com/pioneers/lumiere_bio.html

http://popwatch.ew.com/2011/12/27/contrarian-corner-ive-had-it-with-video-stores/

Top 10 Grossing Films of 2011

January 12, 2012

Now that 2011 is history, it is time to consider how movies fared in the past year. The top ten grossing films in the U.S. were:

1.)  Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 $381 Million
While it was sad to see the films end, they ended very well. God bless J.K. Rowling for her imagination and for being brave enough not to drag out the Harry Potter story. The books and films ran their course and the characters all lived happily ever after, except for Dumbledore, Voldemore and Professor Snape.

2.)  Transformers: Dark of the Moon        $352.3 Million

3 .)  The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1     $276.1 Million
I can’t wait for Part II so that these Twilight films will end. Once. And. For. ALL!

4.) The Hangover Part II        $254.4 Million
Low-brow humor brings in the dough.

5.) Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides   $241 Million

6.)  Fast Five        $209.8 Million

7.)  Cars 2           $191.4 Million
Since sequels worked for Toy Story, the folks at Pixar felt it would work for Cars and it did.

8.)   Thor         $181 Million
Stan Lee must be a very happy camper since his creations have finally made it to the silver screen.

9.)   Rise of the Planet of the Apes        $176.7 Million

10.)  Captain America: The First Avenger   $176.6 Million
See number 8.

Well, what about Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol? You must be asking. After all, this was the film that heralded Tom Cruise’s return to being a box office draw. Well that film was 18th on the Box Office Mojo list for 2011 with a total U.S. gross of $141.1 Million as of January 3, 2012.

Still, what do these films say about the movie industry. Well, they don’t just say, they shout that sequels still sell. Eight out of the 10 films on the list were sequels. I’ve written quite a lot about how sequels, redos and reboots have littered the movie landscape, so a word to the wise is sufficient. (i.e. The suits haven’t gotten the message so, gentle moviegoer, seek out something original and ignore the sequels, redos and reboots.)

I don’t mind movies based on comic books, because comic books lend themselves to being on the silver screen, especially with the technology now available.  With today’s technology, a good special effect team can make it very easy to suspend disbelief and buy into the illusion that someone can leap tall buildings in a single bound, swing from skyscraper to skyscraper or design an exoskeleton suit that makes him impervious to injury and have incredible strength. Of course, a good special effects team can’t help if someone is a bad actor. Remember, there are limits as to what special effects can do.

Of course, I must admit that I am still on the fence regarding the upcoming Spider-Man reboot. The three Spider-Man films directed by Sam Rami and staring Toby Maguire as Peter Parker/Spider-Man did well at the box office, with audiences and critics. It wouldn’t hurt anyone to have ended it at the third film and let other characters in the Marvel universe get their chance in the spotlight. Yet, I’ve seen some of the images from the film and they have piqued my curiosity. Stay tuned for further developments.

You know, when I ended a similar blog entry in January 2011, I predicted that 2011 would bring more blockbusters, sequels and animated films. I was right and the above list proves it. Just goes to show you that the best predictor of future behavior is past behavior.

Sources:
http://boxofficemojo.com/yearly/chart/?yr=2011&p=.htm

http://www.hollywood.com/news/The_Box_Office_Year_in_Review_2011/12394979

Library of Congress Adds Movies to the 2011 Film Registry

January 5, 2012

What do Forrest Gump and A Cure for Pokeritis have in common? They are just two of the 25 films added to the Library of Congress’ Film Registry for 2011. The Film Registry was established by an act of Congress in 1989 and its mission is to preserve films that are “…culturally, historically or aesthetically significant…” This year’s group brings the number of films in the registry to 575 and to say that this bunch is a diverse lot is an understatement. In addition to Forrest Gump and A Cure for Pokeritis, there are films about addiction (The Lost Weekend) an early example of computer animation (A Computer Animated Hand) and Charlie Chaplin’s first full-length film (The Kid).

I must say that it is wonderful that the Library of Congress has a film registry and that those at the registry are working hard to preserve this part of American culture. In doing this blog, I’ve come to the opinion that as far as the United States is concerned, there should be no demarcation line between high culture and popular culture, since it all deals with our hopes and dreams as a people. Whether it is Huckleberry Finn trying to find his place in pre-Civil War Missouri or Luke Skywalker staring at the suns of Tattoine and wanting more than just the farm life with his aunt and uncle, American culture deals with a restlessness that comes from wanting to find out either what is around the bend or what a person is capable of doing or becoming. That’s one of the reasons why American culture is our best export, since the only limit is one’s imagination.

In case you are wondering, the films that made it on to this year’s list are:

  1. Allures (1961)
  2. Bambi (1942)
  3. The Big Heat (1953)
  4. A Computer Animated Hand (1972)
  5. Crisis: Behind A Presidential Commitment (1963)
  6. The Cry of the Children (1912)
  7. A Cure for Pokeritis (1912)
  8. El Mariachi (1992)
  9. Faces (1968)
  10. Fake Fruit Factory (1986)
  11. Forrest Gump (1994)
  12. Growing Up Female (1971)
  13. Hester Street (1975)
  14. I, an Actress (1977)
  15. The Iron Horse (1924)
  16. The Kid (1921)
  17. The Lost Weekend (1945)
  18. The Negro Soldier (1944)
  19. Nicholas Brothers Family Home Movies (1930’s-40s)
  20. Norma Rae (1979)
  21. Porgy and Bess (1959)
  22. The Silence of the Lambs (1991)
  23. Stand and Deliver (1988)
  24. Twentieth Century (1934)
  25. War of the Worlds (1953)

“It’s the stuff that dreams are made of.”

Sources:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/style/2011-national-film-registry-list-is-announced-gump-bambi-deemed-worthy/2011/12/27/gIQA56wbLP_story.html

http://www.loc.gov/today/pr/2011/11-240.html

From the Tube to the Silver Screen

December 29, 2011

Would you believe that a movie version of the 1990’s FOX television show 21 Jump Street will be released on March 16, 2012? Yes, it’s true. For those of you unfamiliar with the show, 21 Jump Street was a police drama about a special unit of police officers who investigate youth crime. These police officers were chosen to be a part of this unit because they could pass for high school and college age students.  It’s headquarters is located at 21 Jump Street (hence the title). The show launched the careers of Johnny Depp and Holly Robinson Peete.

If you haven’t figured it out by now, let me be the first to tell you that I’m not exactly going to be camping out for tickets to this film. Still, the idea of television shows that are turned into movies makes for a good blog subject. So, I will be spotlighting television shows that got the big screen treatment. Of course, the most famous example of a television show that made the transition to the big screen is Star Trek. Still, there have been others that have made the transition, some successfully, some not so successfully. Such as:

The A-Team (2010)
I pity the fool who thought I wouldn’t include this film. Actually no, I don’t, I just wrote that for the heck of it.  This film is based on the NBC television show that ran from 1983 to 1987 about four Army veterans framed for a crime they didn’t commit. (In the television series they were Vietnam veterans, in the movie they were Iraq War veterans.) So, they make their living as soldiers of fortune who help ordinary folks in trouble, such as rescuing people from cults. The film version features the team tracking down counterfeiters. Like the television show, the film featured its fair share of car chases, explosions and pithy banter between the actors.

The Addams Family (1991) /Addams Family Values (1993)
These films started out as a comic in the New Yorker that was drawn by Charles Addams, which then led to a television series that ran on ABC from 1964 to 1966, which then led to two films staring Raul Julia as Gomez Addams, the eccentric patriarch of the gothic Addams family and Anjelica Huston as his macabre, yet loving wife Morticia. Since the powers that be were smart enough to get actors like Julia and Huston, who played their roles well without going overboard both the films were commercially successful and got good reviews.

Bean, the Movie (1997)
This show was a hit on the BBC and soon became a hit worldwide. Actor Rowan Atkinson (who is also is famous for his Black Adder and Johnny English roles) plays Mr. Bean, a museum security guard who doesn’t talk but gets into all sorts of trouble and his attempts to rectify the situation makes it worse (and funny). In the film version, museum officials send Mr. Bean to the U.S. to accompany Whistler’s Arrangement in Gray and Black, No. 1: The Artist’s Mother, also known as Whistler’s Mother, as a way to get rid of him for a few weeks. After the painting is delivered to a Los Angeles museum, Bean subsequently ruins it. His attempts to fix the painting initially makes it worse (and funny). Yet in the end, Mr. Bean saves the day, as well as the painting and to top it off, he actually speaks a few well chosen words.

The Beverly Hillbillies (1993)
This started out as a sitcom that aired on CBS from 1962 to 1971 about the Clampett family who fell into a fortune when oil was discovered on their land. Father Jed moves daughter Ellie May, nephew Jethro and mother-in-law Granny from their humble home in the hill country of Arkansas to Beverly Hills. It is there that the salt of earth Clampetts meet the phony social climbers of Beverly Hills and the end results are very funny. Yet, this was one movie treatment of a sitcom that should not have been greenlighted. The characters in the film were all one-dimensional and the story of someone wanting to marry Jed for his money didn’t hit the jackpot, so to speak.

Of course, this is just a short list of the many television shows that were made into movies. Still, it would be nice if the suits in Hollywood would stop with the TV shows into movies trend. While there have been some television shows that were turned into great movies, such as The Addams Family and Bean. There were others that were real duds, such as The Beverly Hillbillies. So, listen up suits. How about you folks leave the television shows alone and actually seek out some original projects. Yes, I’ve said that in other blog entries and if you want me to stop saying it, then greenlight something that didn’t start out as a television show!

Sources:
http://blog.moviefone.com/2011/12/19/21-jump-street-poster-jonah-hill-channing-tatum/

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0092312/

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0084967/

http://www.amazon.com/Bean-Rowan-Atkinson/dp/B00007AJF7/ref=sr_1_1?s=movies-tv&ie=UTF8&qid=1324578809&sr=1-1

http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/whis/hd_whis.htm

http://www.amazon.com/Addams-Family-Values/dp/B000FIHN52/ref=sr_1_1?s=movies-tv&ie=UTF8&qid=1324578847&sr=1-1

http://www.tv.com/shows/the-addams-family/

http://www.amazon.com/Beverly-Hillbillies-Diedrich-Bader/dp/B0002XL2ZW/ref=sr_1_2?s=movies-tv&ie=UTF8&qid=1324575748&sr=1-2

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0055662/

 

 

Movie Characters You Wouldn’t Want to Meet in a Well Lit Alley

December 22, 2011

Never mind the saying that goes “I wouldn’t want to meet that person in a dark alley.” There are some movie characters that you wouldn’t want to meet in broad daylight. Who are some of these characters? Well, there’s…

Alex Forrest from Fatal Attraction
One of the most infamous movie of the 1980’s, which features the most psycho of psycho ex’s and is one of Glenn Close’s signature roles. There wasn’t even much a relationship for her to get worked up over. It was just a weekend fling with Michael Douglas’ character. Of course, when Michael Douglas’ character explains he’s married and things have to end, Alex isn’t just going to slink away and gripe about married men. Crank calls, acid on a car hood and a boiling pot that gives a whole new meaning to the phrase Rabbit Stew, all show how sick this woman is. In fact when this film was broadcast on television, I had to shut it off when I saw the pot-boiling scene. That scene scared me, because I knew immediately what was in there and I didn’t wait to see Anne Archer, who played Douglas’ wife in the film, lift the lid. I thought, “If this lady can kill some kid’s pet, who knows what she’s capable of and I don’t want to find out.”

Miranda Priestly from The Devil Wears Prada
Newly minted journalism graduate, Andrea Sachs, (Anne Hathaway) is hired as the assistant to the editor-in-chief of Runway Magazine, Miranda Priestly (Meryl Streep). Andrea soon learns that the job most gals would die for involves working for a boss who takes maliciousness to a whole new level. Miranda makes snide comments about Andrea’s sweater (“It’s not blue… it’s cerulean.”) and expects her to know what type of skirt Miranda means when she tells Andrea that she wants “skirts”. Yes, the boss is not only from hell, the boss also makes everyone’s life a living hell. Of course, it would be funny if there weren’t bosses like Miranda Priestly. Unfortunately for the majority of working folk, there are plenty of bosses, both male and female, like Miranda Priestly.

Avery Tolar from The Firm
If you’ve seen The Firm you’re probably wondering what’s so bad about Avery Tolar, who’s played by Gene Hackman? Yeah, he’s a lawyer, but he doesn’t make sarcastic remarks or threats. So, what’s the problem? The problem is that he is apathetically amoral. He knows that the law firm he works for is basically a tool of the Mafia. Maybe at one time he cared and thought about doing something about it. Unfortunately, he gave up and thought, “The hell with it.”  So, he just did his job, ate, drank and was merry and waited for what he thought was inevitable, death at the hands of the firm. That’s what makes his character so scary. He had lost hope and not having hope is scary.

Darth Vader from Star Wars Episodes IV – VI
Of course, I couldn’t leave out the baddest of bad guys. The man who killed his son’s adoptive parents, destroyed an entire inhabited planet, had his daughter tortured, had someone frozen in carbonite, was going to freeze his own son in carbonite, fought his own son in what was suppose to be a death match and cut off his son’s left hand. It’s pretty obvious the dude’s not to be messed with. Or is it? Remember Darth Vader started out as Anakin Skywalker, a noble Jedi Knight. Yet, as noble as he was, he was something of a lost soul. His mother had to stay behind on Tatooine while he went off to become a Jedi and she later died at the hands of the Sandpeople. He had to keep his love (and marriage) to Padme Amadala a secret. On top of that, somehow being a Jedi wasn’t enough and he was seduced by the Dark Side of the Sith. He lost Padme because of joining the Sith and never got to know his children. So, is he to be pitied, as well as feared? No, because in the end he redeems himself. In Episode VI, as the battle is raging in the space above and on the ground of Endor, Luke Skywalker, in the new Death Star, refuses to continue fighting Darth Vader. Therefore, the Emperor says, “So you shall die, Jedi” and starts zapping him. Luke cries out, “Father!” At that moment, Darth Vader picks up the Emperor and tosses him over a ledge. Vader is no longer lost. He sees that his son is in trouble and helps him. His love for son trumps any allegiance to the Sith and it brings him back to the way of the Jedi.

See, there is hope for all the bad guys out there to turn from their villainy. The thing is, they themselves have to see the error of their ways.

Sources:
http://www.amazon.com/Fatal-Attraction-Michael-Douglas/dp/B00005UPNS/ref=sr_1_4?s=movies-tv&ie=UTF8&qid=1323367591&sr=1-4

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0093010/

http://www.amazon.com/Devil-Wears-Prada-Widescreen/dp/B000J103PC/ref=cm_cr_pr_product_top

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0106918/

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0076759/

Famous or Infamous Movie Lines

December 8, 2011

Sometimes movies can generate lines that are just as well known, if not more so, as the movie itself. So, I’ll use this blog entry showcase some memorable movie lines.

“Never tell me the odds.”
Was this quote from:
A.)  
Leaving Las Vegas (1995)
B.)  
Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
C.) 
Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)

The answer is B. After escaping via the Millennium Falcon from the ice planet Hoth, Han Solo and Chewbecca take Princess Leia and CP3O, through the Hoth asteroid field in the hopes of alluding Imperial forces. Of course, this is a very tricky maneuver. How tricky? CP3O states that the odds of success are 3,720 to 1, at which point Solo says to not to tell him the odds. Come to think of that’s better odds than hitting the million dollar plus lottery.

“In your eyes, the light, the heat. In your eyes, I am complete.”
Which movie was this line from:
A.) 
Say Anything (1989)
B.) 
Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986)
C.) 
Porky’s (1982)
The answer is A and it isn’t a line of spoken dialogue. It is a line from the Peter Gabriel song In Your Eyes from his album So. Gabriel’s song was the song playing from John Cusack’s character’s boom box as a way to serenade Ione Skye’s character. This song then ended up becoming the love anthem of many a lovesick Generation X’er.

“Do you mind if my friend sits this one out? She’s just dead.”
This line came from:
A.)  
The Mechanic (the 2011 version)
B.)  
Thunderball (1965)
C.)  Ocean’s Eleven (the 1960 version)
Yes, B. Really, you didn’t recognize it as one of James Bond’s famous one liners? I could do a whole blog entry on Bond’s one liners, since there are so many of them and they’re all so clever. Say, now that’s a thought.

“I gotta see about a girl.”
Which Oscar winning movie did this quote come from:
A.)  
Titanic (1997)
B.)  
The Lion King (1994)
C.) 
Good Will Hunting (1997)

C. In case you don’t know, Good Will Hunting won the Academy Award for Best Screenplay in 1998. This line was spoken by Robin Williams’ character as he was describing the time he first saw his wife. He and his buddies had tickets to the World Series and they were about to go to the game when he saw the girl who was “The One”. He gave his ticket to his friends and said, “I gotta see about a girl.” Wouldn’t it be nice if more guys were as willing to let go of their sports obsession the way Williams’ character did?

“Play it again, Sam”
A.) 
Casablanca (1942)
B.) 
Christmas In Connecticut (1945)
C.)  None of the above

It’s C. Actually the line goes:
“Play it, Sam. Play ‘As Time Goes By.’ ”
Don’t believe me, go to http://www.afi.com/100years/quotes.aspx and scroll down to number 28 or put Casablanca on your Netflix queue and see for yourself.

“Well, here’s another nice mess you’ve gotten me into!”
I’ll make this a little easy for you. Which Laurel and Hardy film is this from:
A)   
Pardon Us (1931)
B)   
Sons of the Desert (1933)
C)  
Bonnie Scotland (1935)

The answer is B.  Stan and Ollie want to go to the Sons of the Desert (their fraternal club) Annual Convention in Chicago. Their wives won’t let them go. So, Stan hatches a plan whereby a “doctor” (actually a veterinarian) prescribes a Hawaiian vacation for Ollie, without the wife, to calm his nerves. Of course, Stan has to go along to watch over his friend in need. The wives buy it, the boys go to Chicago and no one is the wiser. That is until a few days later when news comes along that the boat the boys are supposedly on has sunk. To kill time until the rescue reports come in, the wives go to the movies. It is at the movies that they see a newsreel featuring Stan and Ollie having a grand ol’ time in Chicago. While the wives are at the movies, the boys return home. I’m sure you can guess what happens next.

“You’re free of the carbonite.”
Yes, this is not a well known quote, still it might be known by certain cognoscenti. So, is this from:

A)    Star Trek III: The Search for Spock (1984)
B)   
Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi (1983)
C)  
The Last Starfighter (1984)

The answer is B. If this still doesn’t ring a bell, let me describe it for you. A masked bounty hunter who earlier brought Chewbacca to Jabba the Hutt sneaks into Jabba’s lair late at night. The bounty hunter goes to where a carbonite frozen Han Solo hangs. The bounty hunter presses a few buttons and pulls a level and Han Solo is freed from the carbonite. “Who are you?” Solo asks the figure whose voice unfamiliar to him and he can’t see, since being frozen in the carbonite temporarily blinded him. The bounty hunter removes the mask (which also has a device to disguise the bounty hunter’s voice) to reveal that she is Princess Leia and answers “Someone who loves you.” Now do you get it?

So, memorize this list and weave these quotes into the conversation, the next time you are at a gathering. Not only will you look like a knowledgeable cinephile, your friends will be amazed at your knowledge, the object of your affection will want to be with you even more and your enemies will have to submit to your superiority.

Actually, none of these things will happen. Still, it doesn’t hurt to have these quotes handy. You’ll never know when you’ll need them.

Sources:
http://starwars.wikia.com/wiki/Hoth_asteroid_field

http://videosift.com/video/Say-Anything-boombox-scene-In-Your-Eyes
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0059800/quotes
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0119217/quotes

http://www.afi.com/100years/quotes.aspx
(Numbers 28, 50, 60)
http://www.laurel-and-hardy.com/
http://www.screenplays-online.de/screenplay/67
 (Scroll down to page 14)

2011 Holiday Movies

November 24, 2011

The last Thursday in November marks Thanksgiving in the U.S., a holiday first celebrated by colonists, commonly known as Pilgrims, at Plymouth Rock, Massachusetts in 1621. It was established as a national holiday in 1863 by President Abraham Lincoln. This is a day in which Americans gather with family and friends to give thanks and share a meal of, most likely, turkey. November also marks the start of the holiday movie season. Holiday movies can be animated, blockbusters, family fare that aims for the ol’heartstrings or anything else.  As you can guess, I’m going to spotlight some holiday movies that are either currently playing or will be released.

November
A Very Harold & Kumar Christmas

Our favorite escapees from Guantanamo Bay, Harold and Kumar, decide to celebrate Christmas in style. Unfortunately, they end up burning down Harold’s father-in-law’s Christmas tree. Uh-oh. Stars Kal Penn, John Cho, Neil Patrick Harris and it is currently in theaters.

Tower Heist
Working stiffs lose their pension because the boss was running a ponzi scheme. So, they decide to rob the boss. Yes, karma bites. Stars Eddie Murphy, Ben Stiller and Casey Affleck and it is currently in theaters.

J. Edgar
A bio-pic about  J.Edgar Hoover, the man who ran the Federal Bureau of Investigation (F.B.I.) for almost 50 years. The film has been getting some Oscar buzz and it was directed by Clint Eastwood. I still feel Eastwood should have gotten the Oscar for Hereafter. Let’s hope the Academy smiles on Eastwood this time around. Stars Leonardo DiCaprio, Armie Hammer and Naomi Watts and it is currently in theaters.

Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1
Vampires, vampires go away. Don’t come back any day (or night).

Oh, and by the way, Edward and Bella get married and they finally do it. Stars Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson and Taylor Lautner and it is currently in theaters.

The Muppets
Kermit and Miss Piggy, now that’s one couple I want to see together. They and the other Muppets reunite to save their old theater from a greedy oil tycoon. (Is there any other kind?) Stars Amy Adams, Jason Segel, Chris Cooper, as well as Kermit, Miss Piggy and the rest of the Muppet crew. The film is currently playing in theaters.

December
Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows

Elementary my dear reader, this looks like this could be better than the 2009 release and I would be delighted if that were the case. Oh, and Holmes battles his nemesis, Professor Moriaty. Stars Robert Downey, Jr., Jude Law and Jared Harris and it will be released on December 16.

The Iron Lady
This is a bio-pic of Margaret Thatcher, prime minister of England in the 1980’s. It stars none other than Meryl Streep (Need an accent, call…) and will be released on December 16.

Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol
Does Tom Cruise still have it in him to carry a blockbuster? We’ll find out with MI 4. The movie will be released on December 21.

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo
Here is the American film version of the book of the same name by Stieg Larsson. The mystery involves a journalist who searches for a woman who has been missing for 40 years and he is helped by a computer hacker. Stars Daniel Craig, Rooney Mara and Stellan Skarsgard. The film will be released on December 21.

The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn
The holiday season Spielberg releases a movie, Part 1. This is a motion capture film, meaning that movement is recorded and then translated into a digital model. Another famous motion capture film is The Polar Express. This films deals with friends going off on an adventure to find treasure. Stars Jamie Bell, Andy Serkis, Daniel Craig and will be released on December 21.

War Horse
The holiday season Spielberg releases a movie, Part 2 and this deals with a boy and his horse, during World War I. Stars Jeremy Irvine, Emily Watson and David Thewlis. It will be released on December 25.

Well there it is, some of this year’s holiday films. Which ones will hit it big and which ones will bomb? Your guess is as good as mine. Still, save me the middle seat in the middle of the theater.

Sources:
http://www.history.com/topics/thanksgiving/page2

http://www.cityoffilms.com/reel-news/the-city-of-films-fall-holiday-movie-guide-2011/3/

http://www.cityoffilms.com/reel-news/the-city-of-films-fall-holiday-movie-guide-2011/4/

Dracula’s Cape & Other Ephemera

November 10, 2011

There was a news item on the Internet regarding the decision of the Bela Lugosi family to auction off the cape he wore in the 1931 movie Dracula. Lugosi left the cape to his wife with the instructions that it be given to their son, Bela Lugosi, Jr. The cape will be auctioned by Profiles in History of Calabasas Hills, CA, along with other Lugosi items from December 15 to 17. The cape is expected to sell for $2 million.

Another item dealing with Hollywood ephemera is a Marilyn Monroe dress, specifically the white subway dress she wore in the film The Seven Year Itch. The dress sold at auction in June for $4.6 million. This dress was part of a collection of movie costumes that actress Debbie Reynolds collected during the course of her career in the hopes that they can be part of a museum of Hollywood history. Since the museum is still in the planning stages and it was becoming difficult for Reynolds to keep these costumes, the decision was made to sell the items at a series of auctions. The next auction from the Reynolds collection will take place on December 3 and again Profiles in History will be running the auction.

At the risk of sounding like a crank,  I feel these two items are grossly overpriced. Yes, Dracula was Lugosi’s signature role and yes, the white dress is the iconic image from The Seven Year Itch, yet I don’t feel that they are truly worth the prices quoted. While many items in the Debbie Reynolds’ auction sold for more than what was expected, there were other items that sold for more ‘reasonable’ prices. For example, Laurel and Hardy’s suits sold for $19,000 and Claudette Colbert’s gold-lame dress from the 1930s Cleopatra sold for only $49,000.  (Heck, I could almost afford those items.) The only explanation for the high prices for the Lugosi and Monroe items is that there are those who want these items so badly and price is not an object. It must be good to have THAT MUCH money.

In addition, these items belong in a museum dedicated to filmmaking. While plans were announced recently to have such a museum in a 300,000 square foot building in Los Angeles, things are still on the drawing board and no open date has been scheduled. This lead to Reynolds’ decision to sell the items. While the new owners were contacted regarding loaning the items for future exhibits, it would be good if the Academy would snap up items from the next Reynolds’ auction. Reynolds invested her time, money and energy to purchase and preserve these items for posterity, so it would be a fitting tribute to her efforts that the powers that be at the Academy would grab a film worn custom or two before some billionaire collector does. After all, they are going to need stuff for the museum and they can’t expect all the billionaire collectors to be willing to loan out a every villain’s or starlet’s costume, no matter how many prestige points it earns them.

Note: Any mention of auction houses or dealers of collectibles are mentioned for informational purposes only. It is not to be taken as an endorsement.

Sources:
http://movies.msn.com/movies/article.aspx?news=678662&silentchk=1&wa=wsignin1.0

http://articles.cnn.com/2011-06-19/entertainment/hollywood.auction_1_monroe-dress-bids-auction?_s=PM:SHOWBIZ

http://www.profilesinhistory.com/press-releases/debbie-reynolds-collection-part-2-auction-press-release