Posts Tagged ‘blockbuster’

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/

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Some Video Stars Aren’t Dead Yet

September 29, 2011

True confession time. I don’t subscribe to Netflix. (Gasp!) I don’t rent DVD’s from Redbox. (Shudder!)  I when I’m in the mood for a watching a movie at home, I go to my local library. The library near where I live has a great selection of movies, children’s DVD’s and old television shows. Blame it on Tower Records & Video (R.I.P.), which was also located near where I live. When I went to Tower for a video to rent, lots of times I didn’t know what I wanted to watch until looked around and found something that caught my eye. Memorable rentals from Tower include Logan’s Run, Batman Returns, The 6th Day, Family Man and even an episode of Nova that dealt with the restoration of the Sistine Chapel.

Unfortunately, the video store is an endangered species. In 2001, there were 25,000 video stores in the U.S. By 2010, the number of video stores went down to 9,900. Still, there are a few hold outs and here are some notable ones:

Video Connections
Just when I thought that all the Mom and Pop video stores were eaten by Blockbuster and other chains, I read about this one store in Vancouver, Washington, that is alive, well and has a vigorous client base. Why? Simple, as the chains have fallen, independent like Video Connections have filled the niche of those who want to rent a DVD today but aren’t exactly looking for the latest release. It also helps the independents that they aren’t restricted by the 28-day waiting period that movie production companies have imposed on Netflix and Redbox for new-release rentals. So, they can get titles in sooner than the current DVD rental behemoths. Let’s forget that helpful staff members and free popcorn helps to bring people in, as well.

Twilight Video
No this store isn’t dedicated to all things Twilight. It is another independent video rental store in Washington state. (Why does Washington state have all these independent video stores?)  The store has over 3000 titles in stock and rents games, as well as DVD’s. If you want to own a DVD, Twilight also sells new and used titles. There are also snacks for sale, so you can watch your favorite film without having to starve.

TLA Video
TLA stands for Theater of the Living Arts and this started out as an experimental theater group in Philadelphia in the 1960’s, then evolved into a movie theater that played art house films and classics like Metropolis and Black Orpheus. In the 1980’s as VCR’s (that stands for videocassette recorders in case you are not a member of Generation X or older) became more popular, they branched out into the video rental business. While TLA had popular films, like Star Wars and Raiders of the Lost Ark, it didn’t forget its roots, since it had a great selection of foreign films and independent films. In fact, the business was so successful that the movie theater closed and management turned its focus to video. In its heyday, there were six stores in the Philadelphia and one in New York City.

Yet, unlike Video Connections and Twilight Video, the bricks and mortar part of TLA’s business is closing and it video library will soon be available online, both as physical DVD’s and as streaming. Call me an old fashioned rube, but I felt sad when I heard TLA’s stores were closing. I often visited a TLA store in Bryn Mawr, PA (a Philadelphia suburb) and found the selection to be better than Tower Records & Video and the staff to be very friendly and knowledgeable. So, I wish the staff of all TLA’s stores well, wherever life takes them.

So, there are some physical locations were you can rent a DVD from real live people. If only there were more of them. Oh well, there’s always the library.

Sources:
http://www.columbian.com/news/2011/aug/27/people-still-like-to-rent-video-by-hand-people-sti/

http://www.twilightvideorentals.com/

http://www.tlavideo.com/company/aboutus.cfm?v=1&sn=3809&g=0

http://articles.philly.com/2011-08-11/news/29876641_1_tla-video-video-stores-movie

“Filmed” with Whatever

March 31, 2011

Do wonders never cease? Not only can the iPhone™ let you surf the web, take photos and has loads of cool apps that lets you do anything from find the nearest coffeeshop to listen to your favorite radio station, you can also make a movie with it.

I’m not talking about something high school kids make in a few minutes and upload to YouTube to so that others can laugh at their sophomoric hijinx (i.e. burp and fart jokes). What I am talking about is South Korean director, Park Chan-wook who was given $130,000 by a South Korean cell phone company to make a movie with an iPhone™. While this has the feel of a promotional venture, Park isn’t the first director to use tools that weren’t exactly high end in order to make a movie.

Christopher Nolan, of Batman and Inception fame, made his first film, Following with limited equipment and a ‘crew’ of people who had day jobs. While it didn’t become a blockbuster, it is respected among the cult film aficionados. Independent director Lena Dunham shot 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.  Robert Rodriguez’s budget for El Mariachi was only $7,000 and the movie was financially and critically successful.

So, will the next Scorsese, Lucas or Cameron use off-the-shelf equipment and work with a budget of thousands, maybe tens of thousands of he or she is lucky enough to get that much money. Most likely yes. Still, it is important to remember that in the end it isn’t so much the equipment that makes a good movie, rather it is good storytelling. After all films like Star Wars, Love Story, Avatar, Gone With The Wind, and When Harry Met Sally captured the popular imagination the way that they did because films had a good story to tell and each of them told it well. Pyrotechnics, animation and 3D will have the audience saying “Wow”, but without a good story, it is just an exercise in visuals.

So, who knows what the tech heads will dream up. It could be something that you hold in the palm of your hand, use to order pizza on a Friday night and inspire a future Oscar winning director. Something to think about the next time you make a phone call on your smart phone or happen upon a bunch of teenagers filming fart jokes on an iPhone™.

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

http://blog.koldcast.tv/2010/koldcast-news/the-15-cheapest-movies-that-went-on-to-become-cult-classics/