Posts Tagged ‘1980’s’

Fanboys (and Girls) Back Off

February 16, 2012

George Lucas, the man behind Star Wars, the co-creator of Indiana Jones and now the co-director of Red Tails, a World War II film that focuses on the pursuit squadron made up of African-Americans, known as the Tuskegee Airmen, has announced that he is retiring from making movies.

Yet, for someone who has created some of the most enduring characters in film and some of the most successful films in the history of cinema, Lucas seems to be more an object of scorn than praise. The comments section of the website where I learned of Lucas’ retirement had quite a few sarcastic and nasty comments about him. Of course, to be fair there were complimentary comments as well.  I feel that the negative comments directed at him are mean spirited and don’t add anything constructive to the conversation. So, this blog entry will be my answer to all the disgruntled Jedis out there.

First, a disclosure:
Yes, I am a fan of all the Star Wars films from the original trilogy to the prequels. I love the films because of the good versus evil/adventure story that they are. Yet, I must say that I feel that the Clone Wars animated film and subsequent series are unnecessary. As for the Ewok made-for-TV movies from the 1980’s, I’m neutral on them.  Now, here’s my two cents on the subject:

Temper Your Expectations
Get over the fact that the prequels weren’t what you expected them to be. Remember this is Star Wars, a series of movies that was made for entertainment purposes, they are not meant to be taken as philosophy or religion. Yes, it uses mythic arch-types such as hero’s quest and redemption, but many stories have those things, such as The Chronicles of Narina and Lord of the Rings. No one begrudges the filmmakers of these films for how they interpreted each story.

If You Think You Can Do A Better Job…
Make your own movie! That’s right. If you are going to shoot off your big mouth about how you didn’t like this or that aspect of the Star Wars prequels or would or would not do something a certain way, then go make your own movie where you decide how things should be done. Digital cameras make it much cheaper and, in many ways, easier to make a film now than it was in the mid 1970’s when Lucas was in Tunisia and England making Star Wars. In fact, independent director Lena Dunham shot the film Tiny Furniture on a Canon EOS 7D, a still camera that sells for $1500, and she got a nomination for Best Cinematography from the Independent Spirit Award. So, stop shooting off your mouth and start shooting a movie.

In The Words Of A Certain Starfleet Captain…
“Get a life!” Yes, I am mixing my pop culture metaphors, still it is apropos for those who feel the need to comment on how George Lucas sold out, could have done better or mention anything else that is less than complementary. Lucas has achieved what few people have done, namely he was able to take the ideas in his head and have them realized. Most people’s ideas, for whatever reason, stay exactly that—ideas that never see the light of day. Yet, Lucas was lucky enough to not only have the Star Wars films made, but to see them transcend just being movies to become a part of American culture.

So, how about showing a little admiration for what Lucas was able to accomplish and if you can’t show some admiration, then back off. The Star Wars films are Lucas’ baby. He created them, shared them with the world and millions were touched by them. How many people can say that about their creations?

Personally, I don’t think this retirement will last very long. He’ll get another idea that he just has to turn into a film. So, don’t expect Lucas to spend the rest of his days playing golf and lounging around the Skywalker Ranch.

Sources:
http://www.movieweb.com/news/george-lucas-set-to-retire-after-red-tails

http://www.tuskegeeairmen.org/explore/history.aspx

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/terry-keefe/the-slamdance-film-festiv_b_1217044.html

http://www.ebertpresents.com/episodes/episode-108/videos/88

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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/

The Enduring Appeal of Movie Posters

December 15, 2011

As I was surfing the ‘Net looking for topics to write about I found few items that show both the evolution of movie posters and how they endure both as works of art and commerce.

First, there was an article in the December 3 San Diego Reader about rejected movie posters from the 1980’s. This article was just one in a series of articles about a collection of movie posters designs that the studios rejected. Most of these movie posters featured in the article were mock-ups or one of many versions that an artist created for studio executives to choose from. One of the posters featured was for the thriller Fatal Attraction. The mock up is on the left and the version that appeared in movie theaters is on the right.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
I like the one on the right, since the tagline of “On the other side of drinks, dinner and a one night stand is a terrifying love story” makes you wonder, “What do they mean by that?

Another web item featured pictures of Ghanaian movie posters. While I mentioned these types of movie posters in a previous entry, (you can read it in The Travels of American Culture  February 10, 2011) to refresh your memory, Ghanaian movie posters came about in the 1980’s as VCR’s and videocassettes were introduced in the African nation of Ghana. Independent contractors would drive around the countryside with a television, VCR and generator. They would stop in a particular town and for a small admission fee, they would show a movie, mostly American films. In order to advertise their show, they hired artists to create movie posters. These creations were made with oil paint and canvas. Sometimes the posters reflected the plot of the movie, other times they reflected the imagination of the artists. (See below.)


Well, by the mid 1990’s, as television and video became more available, these mobile cinemas fell by the wayside and the operators couldn’t afford the artists anymore, so they relied on photocopied movie posters. Subsequently, these posters became sought after by collectors and they have asking prices of $200 and up.

So, how do these two examples show the enduring appeal of movie posters? Don’t worry, I’m getting to that. Movie posters are the original multi-taskers. They are vehicles of both commerce and art. Movie posters, if they are designed well, pique the viewer’s curiosity about a film, later they serve to remind the viewer how much he or she enjoyed the film and are things of beauty, in and of themselves. If they didn’t meet these criteria in the first place, no one would want them. So, despite all the tech diversions out there, folks still have an affinity for a 27 inch x 40 inch piece of paper that features pictures of people in situations ranging from the absurd to realistic. “It’s the stuff that dreams are made of.”

Sources:
http://www.sandiegoreader.com/weblogs/big-screen/2011/dec/03/part-5-famous-movie-poster-rejects-youve-never-see/

http://blogtown.portlandmercury.com/BlogtownPDX/archives/2011/12/01/ghanas-movie-posters-are-better-than-americas-movie-posters

http://www.obsessedwithfilm.com/cool-stuff/cool-stuff-ghanaian-movie-posters.php

3D Movies—The Boomerang Film Effect, Since It Keeps Coming Back

April 22, 2010

Recently several big budget films, such as Avatar, Alice in Wonderland and Clash of the Titans, have been made available in 3D versions. This film effect isn’t new. Mainstream 3D films first came along in the 1950’s as a way to get people away from their televisions and back to the theaters. Most of the films from the 1950’s wave of 3D were in the horror genre. They included films like Bwana Devil and House of Wax and they weren’t exactly Oscar contenders. Many times the fact that they were 3D films was the only thing going for them. Also, the moviegoer had wear cheap paper glass with red and green plastic sheets in each eyepiece, in order to experience the 3D effects. Then the fad faded. In the 1980’s came a resurgence of 3D films. Movie such as Jaws 3D and Friday the 13th Part III in 3D, helped to cement 3D’s reputation as a cheesy gimmick that didn’t add much to the film.

With advances in technology, the studios are hoping that the recent crop of 3D films will show how this can enhance a film. The trouble is how do the studio heads define enhance? Among the group of recent 3D movies, only Avatar was filmed in 3D. The 3D effects in Alice in Wonderland and Clash of the Titans were added post-production. Because of that fact, not everyone is jumping on the 3D bandwagon. Avatar director, James Cameron states that the decision to make a 3D movie should be made by the director, not by studio heads.

So, where does that leave the average filmgoer? I don’t know. I will say that while I’m intrigued by this next generation 3D, in the end, I want a movie that tells a good story. I don’t want to pay extra for a gimmick that may not add anything to the movie going experience. So to the studio heads out there, cool your jets when it comes to 3D. Like James Cameron said, if the director wants to do a 3D movie, great, let him or her do it. If not, leave the film alone. Not every movie benefits from being viewed 3D. Also, many filmgoers have complained of headaches and dizziness from watching a 3D movie. So, just because 3D worked for Avatar, it doesn’t mean it will work for every movie.

Sources:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/film/2009/aug/20/3d-film-history

http://www.popularmechanics.com/technology/digital/3d/aliceinwonderland3dvfx

http://www.latinoreview.com/news/james-cameron-thinks-studios-should-chill-on-3d-conversions-9545

http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE62N14P20100325?feedType=RSS&feedName=entertainmentNews&utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+reuters%2Fentertainment+%28News+%2F+US+%2F
+Entertainment%29