Posts Tagged ‘George Lucas’

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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Disney Classics Goes 3D

November 3, 2011

After the success of the re-release The Lion King in 3D, Disney announced that it will re-release Beauty and The Beast, Finding Nemo, The Little Mermaid and  Monsters, Inc. in 3D.

I guess I blogged too soon about there being intelligent life in Hollywood. (See Kimosabe, Uncle Walt Says Stop) I must admit I thought re-release The Lion King in 3D was just a one time deal before it goes on to Blu-Ray DVD. Rather it was more like a test for the folks at Disney. Now instead of making original animated 3D films, Uncle Walt’s crew is retro fitting older animated films with 3D effects.

Of course, the 3D retro fitting idea can be traced back to George Lucas doing that to the Star Wars films. I suspect that the folks at Disney found out what he was doing and thought “Gee, if Lucas is doing that for the Star Wars films and there are only six of them, just think what we could with our back catalogue of animated films.” Then The Lion King in 3D did so well, the folks at the Mouse Factory were singing Hakuna Matata all the way to the bank.

Still, 3D isn’t as great as the studios would have us believe and it’s an effect that won’t work for every movie. What’s next? Will Dreamworks’ animation department jump on the bandwagon and start retro fitting all the Shrek and Madagascar films in 3D? What about Warner Brothers? Will we be treated to Bugs Bunny being hunted by Elmer Fudd in 3D? (Quick duck, Fudd has a gun!) Oh Don Bluth*, where are you when we need you the most?

Most of the time, the only thing 3D adds to a film is that it adds more money to the admission price. What makes Disney’s animated films so great is that while the stories they are based on are classics in and of themselves, Disney added the artistry and the storytelling elements that made them their own. When it comes to Snow White, people don’t think of The Brothers Grimm. No, they think of Snow White dancing with the Dwarves and singing Someday My Prince Will Come.

Disney has the resources at its disposal and then some to create another classic animated film, so it has no excuse when it comes this. So, come on Mickey, start whipping your minions into shape. They produced animated films that were grand artistic achievements in the past and they can do it again.

*Don Bluth, a former Disney animator who in 1979 left to establish Don Bluth Productions. His company was responsible for such animated films as The Secret of NIMH, An American Tail, The Land Before Time, Titan AE and let’s not forget the video game Dragon’s Lair.

Sources:
http://insidemovies.ew.com/2011/10/04/disney-3d-beauty-beast-mermaid/

http://www.slashfilm.com/disney-3d-rereleases-2012/

http://donbluthanimation.com/_Don_Bluth_Animation_About_Don.html

Successful Movie Franchises Part 1

July 21, 2011

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2, the last film in the Harry Potter series opened on July 15, 2011 and made $168.5 million in the U.S. its opening weekend.  This film means the end of the Harry Potter movie franchise. The series made over $6 billion worldwide, made stars of Daniel Radcliffe (Harry Potter), Emma Watson (Hermione Granger) and Rupert Grint (Ron Weasley) and it made book series author,  J.K. Rowling a very happy (and rich) camper. Not bad for an idea Rowling thought of while riding the train.

Of course, Harry Potter isn’t the only movie franchise. There are others, so let’s explore the world of movie franchises and let’s see what we will find.

James Bond
“Bond. James Bond.” The smoothness. The gadgets. The women. The double entondres. There only one Bond, M6 spy and lady (and bad guy) killer extraordinaire. Actually no, there have been nine actors, Barry Nelson, David Niven, Sean Connery, George Lazenby, Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton, Pierce Bronson and Daniel Craig, who played James Bond and 22 official Bond films made by Eon Productions. In case you are wondering, they are:

Dr. No (1962-Sean Connery)
From Russia With Love
(1963-Sean Connery)
Goldfinger
(1964-Sean Connery)
Thunderball
(1965-Sean Connery)
You Only Live Twice
(1967-Sean Connery)
On Her Majesty’s Secret Service
(1969-George Lazenby)
Diamonds Are Forever
(1971-Sean Connery)
Live and Let Die
(1973-Roger Moore)
The Man with the Golden Gun
(1974-Roger Moore)
The Spy Who Loved Me
(1977-Roger Moore)
Moonraker
(1979-Roger Moore)
For Your Eyes Only
(1981-Roger Moore)
Octopussy
(1983-Roger Moore)
A View to a Kill
(1985-Roger Moore)
The Living Daylights
(1987-Timothy Dalton)
Licence to Kill
(1989-Timothy Dalton)
GoldenEye
(1995-Pierce Brosnan)
Tomorrow Never Dies
(1997-Pierce Brosnan)
The World is Not Enough
(1999-Pierce Brosnan)
Die Another Day
(2002-Pierce Brosnan)
Casino Royale
(2006-Daniel Craig)
Quantum of Solace
(2008-Daniel Craig)

Three films were not made by Eon Productions and they not considered part of the Bond canon. These unofficial films are:

Casino Royale (1954-Barry Nelson)
Casino Royale
(1967-David Niven & Peter Sellers)
Never Say Never Again
(1983-Sean Connery)

What is it about the Bond movies that keep people coming back for more? Is it the smoothness, the gadgets, the women and the double entondres? I’m sure that’s part of it. I say it is the fact that there will always be bad guys, whether communist spies, billionaires obsessed with world domination or other malcontents run amok that need disciplining. So, who’s going to take out the garbage?

Bond. James Bond.

Star Wars
Love him or hate him, you have to hand it to director and creator George Lucas. He took the ancient story of the vision quest/reluctant hero/redemption of the villain and milked it for all it was worth. How much did the Star Wars films make? How does $4 billion worldwide sound to you? Sounds very good to me and that’s just the money made at the box office. That total does not include the books, toys and other items in the Star Wars product universe. So, if you would like to put Star Wars films in your Netflix queue here are the titles:

Star Wars (aka Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope) (1977)
Star Wars Episode V The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
Star Wars Episode VI Return of the Jedi (1983)
Star Wars Episode I The Phantom Menace (1999)
Star Wars Episode II Attack of the Clones (2002)
Star Wars Episode III Revenge of the Sith (2005)

Star Trek
Another space opera that did very well for its creator, Gene Roddenbury. Whereas Star Wars is steeped in myth, Star Trek is steeped in science. What started out as a failed television series gained new life in syndication, then in the movies, as resurrected television series, with three spinoffs, and more movies. How many movies? Would you believe 11? Yes, and again, if you want to know what they are:

Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979)
Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan
(1982)
Star Trek III: The Search For Spock
(1984)
Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home
(1986)
Star Trek V: The Final Frontier
(1989)
Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country
(1991)
Star Trek: Generations
(1994)
Star Trek: First Contact
(1996)
Star Trek: Insurrection
(1998)
Star Trek: Nemesis
(2002)
Star Trek
(2009) This is the reboot/prequel directed by J.J. Abrams.

(As Star Wars goes, so does Star Trek.)

What keeps people coming back for Star Trek? For all its science, Star Trek is a message of hope. In the Star Trek universe, the people of Earth got their act together, made peace with each other and endeavor to help others to do the same. Yeah, the Enterprise is armed, but you have to remember that the Federation has its enemies and a starship has to have the ability to defend itself.

Toy Story
The movie that put Pixar on the map and changed the face of animation. The story of the secret life of Andy’s toys won the hearts of moviegoers made Steve Jobs, John Lasseter and others at Pixar lots of money. It also lead to other Pixar films such as Finding Nemo, Cars, Monsters—just to name a few. There were three Toy Story films that featured the voices of Tom Hanks, Tim Allen and Don Rickles. Each film was a critical and commercial success and collectively they made over $883 million in the U.S., alone. Not bad for toys that keep getting misplaced and lost. Thankfully, the folks at Pixar have giving the toys a rest and it looks like there won’t be anymore Toy Story films made. Yippee. Someone at a studio knows when to stop. Anyway, the movies are:

Toy Story 1995
Toy Story 2
1999
Toy Story 3
2010

Wait a minute! You must be saying now. There are more successful movie franchisees that just the ones mentioned here. Well, of course there are. What do you think?  That I’m stupid or something? (Don’t answer that.) Anyway, a successful movie franchise keeps the audience wanting more. So, in that spirit, I’ll ask you to stay tuned for another of my thrilling blog entries where I will dazzle you, the reader, with tales of successful movie franchisees.

Okay, so my blog entries aren’t thrilling, but they are good reads.

Sources:

http://www.boxofficemojo.com/alltime/world/

http://www.klast.net/bond/filmlist.html

http://www.answerbag.com/q_view/50418

http://www.boxofficemojo.com/franchises/chart/?id=toystory.htm

http://blastr.com/2009/05/the-10-star-trek-movies-s.php

http://www.movieweb.com/news/box-office-beat-down-harry-potter-and-the-deathly-hallows-part-2-earns-168-5-million

Phew! Not All Is Lost

March 17, 2011

Just when I thought Hollywood was just greenlighting remakes and reboots, I learn of a contest sponsored by FilmDemic, an independent film distribution company. This contest is for the best independent film trailer. The winners get to have their film screened at one of the FilmDemic Screening Series events in Los Angeles.

The founder of FilmDemic, Vaughn Juares felt it was important to help independent film makers find an audience for their work. “…[W]e partner with filmmakers, not take their film and toss it in to the black hole of distribution with no marketing support.” Juares said. In addition to the contest, FilmDemic allows filmmakers to submit their films on a non-exclusive basis. The filmmaker retains all the rights to the film and 60% of all net proceeds from the sale of their film through the FilmDemic online store and 50% of all net proceeds from all other distribution channels such as, DVD’s, television, VOD and theatrical releases.

Talk about a breath of fresh air. Finally, someone in the movie industry is looking for and funding original work. Granted, it specializes in independent films. Still, you have to start somewhere. After all, George Lucas, Martin Scorcese and other filmmakers started with minimal budgets. I was bothered when I learned about the remakes of Arthur and The Bodyguard. Surely there must be enough money out there to fund something original? Thankfully Juares and others at FilmDemic are putting their money and marketing know-how where their mouths are.

Now I want to see the big studios do the same thing. After all, they have a lot of money at their disposal. How hard can it be to find and fund an original project?  I don’t think it is so hard, then again I don’t run a film studio. So, I have a feeling that the studios will be riding the remake/reboot train for a while and the original stuff will come from the independents like FilmDemic.

To learn more go to: http://filmdemic.com/

Sources:
http://www.benzinga.com/press-releases/11/02/p861683/new-indie-film-distributor-filmdemic-kicks-off-its-search-for-great-ind

http://filmdemic.com/

Movie Memories

November 24, 2010

Since this is my blog, occasionally I like to write about things from my life related to the blog’s focus. This will be one of those entries. Specifically, this entry will be about memorable movie watching experiences.  What made them so memorable? Read this entry and find out.

Snow White
I saw this in a movie theater on Christmas with my older brother when I was six. We went to church, opened the presents, ate dinner and there was nothing else to do. So, my brother and I went to see a movie. The movie theater wasn’t far so, we walked and Mom would pick us up afterwards. Mom being a good Italian Mom, packed a bag of pizzelles (waffle cookies) for us to eat during the movie. Me, the bratty younger sister, ate them all, much to the displeasure of my brother. (i.e. “You ate all the pizzelles and you didn’t give me one!”) As for the movie, I liked it.

Return of the Jedi
This movie opened in May 1983, on a Wednesday, and I along with a friend saw it that Saturday. Since this was the “last” film in the Star Wars trilogy, lines were around the movie theater at every movie theater in the country that showed this film. The theater we attended was no exception. I had seen the Star Wars films many, many times. (If you must know 8 for Star Wars, 6 for the Empire Strikes Back and 3 for Return of the Jedi and those are the number for the theatrical release of those films before George Lucas released updated versions in the late 1990’s.) My friend didn’t, so I brought her up to speed on the story while we waited for the movie. Then the movie started and I enjoyed the show, especially toward the end when the emperor was zapping Luke Skywalker and Luke cried out to Darth Vader “Father!”  I said aloud in the movie theater, “Do something!” At which point, Darth Vader picked up the emperor and threw him over a ledge. The whole theater cheered when that happened. That wasn’t just a movie I saw. It was a movie I experienced.

Lion King
This animated Disney movie came out in the summer of 1994. The movie got a lot of press for various reasons. One, it was a Disney animated film and that alone guaranteed it press. Two, it was part of the Disney animation renaissance of the 1990’s. Three, there was talk that the movie was a racist/imperialistic fantasy, since Simba was being groomed to be a King and the hyenas (the bad guys in the story) lived on the fringes of the grassland. All of this piqued my interest and I decided to see the movie to learn if any of the controversy was true. Once the movie started I was amazed. The animation was beautiful and I found the story of Simba, the happy go lucky lion who learned what it meant to be responsible adult, very touching. When the movie finished, the glow from the animation and story overshadowed the controversy. Of course, that’s why Disney is synonymous with animated movie.

While these are just my memories, these vignettes show that going to see a movie isn’t always a passive one-way experience. The viewer brings with him or her all sorts of expectations and life experiences when seeing a film. So, in the end, the viewer gives just as much as he or she receives.

It Came From The Stacks

August 25, 2010

Recently, the movie Eat, Pray, Love starring Julia Roberts opened in theaters. The movie is based on the book of the same name by Elizabeth Gilbert and it deals with one woman’s post divorce soul search via travel. This is not the first time a book was the source material for a movie. In fact, many, many movies were based on books. So much so, someone could do a blog on all the movies that were based on books.  (ha-ha)

Well, if you think that I’m going to do a blog entry about books that have been made into movies, I have this to say:

You’re right.

While I can’t write about all the books that have been made into movies, I will feature some notable examples.

The Bible
Yes, the best selling book of all time has spawned quite a few movies.  They include:

The Ten Commandments
Released in 1923 and a remake came out in 1956. The 1956 version starred Charlton Heston and Yul Brynner. Based on the book of Exodus and regarding the 1956 version, in a nutshell, Moses (Heston) is raised in Pharaoh’s household and is loved by all, except by his brother Rameses (Brynner). Moses discovers he is not Egyptian is banished from Egypt, he later returns and declares “Let my people GO!” Oh and Brynner does a lot of scowling. The 1923 and 1956 films were directed by none other than Cecil B. DeMille. So, stop being mad at George Lucas for wanting to revisit Star Wars. Lucas was just following DeMille’s footsteps.

The Bible…In the Beginning
Released in 1966. Based on the book of Genesis, which means it starts with Creation and ends with Abraham being told not sacrifice his son, Isaac. This film also features director John Huston as Noah and George C. Scott as Abraham.

The Passion of the Christ
Released in 2004. Based on the last 12 hours of the life of Jesus, by way of the Gospels according to Sts. Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. The film starred James Caviezel as Jesus and was directed by Mel Gibson. At the time it was released, there was a lot of controversy. Some said film was anti-semitic in tone. Others took issue with the violence in the film. When the film’s theatrical release ended, the controversy died down and life went on, the same as it always did.

Gone With The Wind
Released in 1939, this is the movie most people think of when the phrase “Based on the best selling book” comes to mind. Based on the book by the same name by Margaret Mitchell, the movie deals with two people, Scarlett O’Hara and Rhett Butler, and how they lived and loved during the time period before, during and after the American Civil War. The movie also features one of the most quoted lines in the history of American films. If I have tell you what that line is, I have this to say:

Frankly my dear, have you been living under a rock?

Wuthering Heights
Released the same year as Gone With The Wind and is overshadowed by that film. Based on the book of the same name by Emily Brontë, it deals with the love of Heathcliff, an orphan brought to Wuthering Heights and Catherine Earnshaw, the daughter of the owner of Wuthering Heights. Circumstances force them apart but their love for each other never dies. None other than Sir Laurence Olivier is Heathcliff and Merle Oberon is Catherine in this movie. The book has gone through many film and television adaptations, yet Olivier/Oberon version is considered by many to be the definitive film version. FYI: Timothy Dalton (James Bond of the late 1980’s and early 1990’s) was cast as Heathcliff in the 1970 film.

The Bridges Of Madison County
Moving up a couple of decades, this film came out in 1995. Based on the book of the same name by Robert James Waller, this deals with a four-day affair between Francesca Johnson, Iowa housewife/World War II bride from Italy and Robert Kincaid, a National Geographic photographer. Meryl Streep with a very convincing Italian accent, played Francesca (of course), Clint Eastwood played Robert and was the director of this film. Yet, for some strange reason, this film did not receive any Academy Awards. Bummer.

There you have it, several examples of books that were made into films. Of course, nowadays, many writers are interested in writing the Great American Blog, as opposed to  book. Here’s an idea for you. A movie based on a blog! Oh wait, that’s been done with Julie & Julia.

What about a movie based on a blog that deals with collecting, movie posters and pop culture as it relates to the movie industry?  Now, that would make a great movie! Don’t you think?

Sources:

http://www.amazon.com/Ten-Commandments-50th-Anniversary-Collection/dp/B000CNESNA/ref=sr_1_1?s=dvd&ie=UTF8&qid=1282176115&sr=1-1

http://www.amazon.com/Greatest-Story-Ever-Told-Movie/dp/B0002BO05S/ref=sr_1_4?s=dvd&ie=UTF8&qid=1282176496&sr=1-4

http://www.amazon.com/Bible-Beginning-Michael-Parks/dp/B00005NKT6/ref=sr_1_14?s=dvd&ie=UTF8&qid=1282176915&sr=1-14

http://www.amazon.com/Passion-Christ-Full-Screen/dp/B00028HBKC/ref=sr_1_1?s=dvd&ie=UTF8&qid=1282178185&sr=1-1

http://www.amazon.com/Gone-Wind-Two-Disc-70th-Anniversary/dp/B002M2Z3BA/ref=sr_1_1?s=dvd&ie=UTF8&qid=1282180096&sr=1-1

http://www.amazon.com/Wuthering-Heights-Merle-Oberon/dp/B00028HCEW/ref=sr_1_1?s=dvd&ie=UTF8&qid=1282332941&sr=1-1

http://www.amazon.com/Wuthering-Heights-Anna-Calder-Marshall/dp/B00005R5GB/ref=pd_sim_d_5

http://www.amazon.com/Julie-Julia-Meryl-Streep/dp/B002RSDW80/ref=sr_1_1?s=dvd&ie=UTF8&qid=1282337444&sr=1-1

The 1970’s, The Greatest Decade in Film?

June 3, 2010

Over the years, I have read quite a few articles that state the 1970’s were the greatest decade in film. Yes, many directors made their mark in the 1970’s, such as Martin Scorsese, Francis Ford Coppola, George Lucas, Steven Spielberg, just to name a few. Also, there are a good number of films that were both commercial and critical successes, such as, The Godfather, The Godfather Part II, Taxi Driver, Network, again just to name a few.

Still, a lot can happen after a decade passes and films can fall into and out of favor. So, can any one decade be considered the greatest decade in film? Many say that 1939 is the greatest year in film, since that was the year films such as The Wizard of Oz, Gone With The Wind, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington and Wuthering Heights were released. Of course, just because many people say such a thing, doesn’t make it true. Also, as the years went on, some of those films seem dated and hokey to modern audiences.

For me, the jury is still out as to whether or not the 1970’s were the greatest decade in film. So, I’ll just take this opportunity to highlight what I think sets filmmaking in the  1970’s apart from other decades.

Directors were products of universities, not studios
Martin Scorsese graduated from New York University and he was a film major. Francis Ford Coppola majored in drama at Hofstra University and did graduate work in film at UCLA. George Lucas went to University of Southern California film school.  Steven Spielberg went to California State University Long Beach. This list of directors and where they went to school shows that unlike directors of the past they weren’t “apprenticed” under one director or just fell into directing.  The people mentioned above were exposed to not only the liberal arts tradition, they were also exposed to and examined French films, Italian films, German films, Japanese films, Hollywood films, art films and they were getting their hands dirty by making their own films. This exposure to many different movie making modes and being allowed to try out their ideas, lead to Hollywood movies that had a richness and depth that wasn’t there before.

Hollywood recovered from development of television
My theory is that it took Hollywood 10 years to recover from the shock that television inflicted. Yes, developments like Cinemascope and color film becoming standard helped to bring people back to the movies. Still, once the powers that be were convinced that people still wanted to go the movies on a regular basis, they were more willing to give directors like Scorsese, Coppola, Lucas and others a chance.

Willingness to explore social issues
Somewhat related to the above, by the 1970’s, the old school of studio heads had died out and those that came after were willing to okay movies that weren’t just about “Boy Meets Girl”.  The movies of the decade dealt with the aftermath of the Vietnam war (The Deer Hunter, Coming Home), political corruption (All The Presidents’ Men), the effect of television in our lives (Network), racism and the drug trade (Superfly) and the list goes on. These films took on issues and the directors and other involved with the film weren’t afraid to face some controversy.

The Blockbuster Film
I also feel the need to mention that the blockbuster film, as we know it, came about in the 1970’s. Films like Jaws, Star Wars, Close Encounters of the Third Kind and Superman weren’t just successful films. They broke box office records, had catch phrases and led to merchandising deals and sequels. Since then, it is rare that a blockbuster film doesn’t have some merchandise related to it, does very, very well at the box office and have a sequel or two in the works.

So, while the 1970’s may not be the definitive best decade in film, it does stand out from the decades that came before and from those that came afterwards.

Sources:

http://www.theauteurs.com/topics/2849?page=3

http://movieprojector.blogspot.com/2009/08/best-movies-of-1970s.html

http://www.filmsite.org/1939.html

http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0000217/bio

http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0000338/bio

http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0000184/bio

My Favorite Films & Why

May 14, 2010

It was going to happen eventually, my writing about my favorite movies. So, let’s get started.

Star Wars Episode I-VI
When I saw the first movie in the series, now known as Episode IV, with my brother in 1978 , I had no idea what kind of movie I was going to see. Once the movie was finished, I was hooked.  Like many kids growing up in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s whenever Episodes IV-VI were re-released, I was at the movie theater.  (Remember, this was before the proliferation of VCRs. Also, I live in Philadelphia and the city wasn’t wired for cable until 1986.) The Star Wars series was a story of finding your place in the world, finding love and finding redemption. George Lucas and company did a very good job for all of them. Don’t look at me like that! Yes, he did do a good job with both the original three and the prequels. While the acting was off the mark at times, Lucas took those age old stories and retooled them for modern audiences.

E.T. The Extraterrestrial
This movie was directed by Steven Spielberg, who is a contemporary of George Lucas, incidentally they joined forces to make the Indiana Jones movies.  I went into this expecting a film where alien comes to earth and creates havoc with the people the alien lives with. Instead, I got a film that shows how love and friendship encompass all that we know and yet to know.

It’s A Wonderful Life
An oldie but a goodie. I first saw this film on a Philadelphia UHF television station in the mid 1980’s and I watch it every December since that time. I love the story of George Bailey, played superbly by Jimmy Stewart, the every person who had dreams but set them aside for the sake his family and his community. After a serious business mishap, Bailey felt that his life was worthless and he decided to kill himself. An angel came along to stop him and showed him what life would be like if he had not been born. Life sans George Bailey wasn’t a pretty picture. This film reminds me of the power of small acts of kindness and how these small kindnesses mean a lot to others.

Avatar
Now comes the recent stuff. I read an interview with Sigourney Weaver in Parade Magazine in December 2009 and she spoke a little about her role in Avatar. That piqued my interest. So, once the holidays were over, I went to see it and WOW! Watching Avatar, I didn’t just engage in a little fantasy, I inhabited the world of Avatar. The acting was first rate, the visuals were spectacular and the story of indigenous peoples being forced off their land, is applicable to our time. As deserving as The Hurt Locker was for its Oscars, it would have been nice if that movie won the Best Director award and Avatar won Best Picture award.

Well, those films are a motley bunch. Still the one thing they have in common is this:

I loved them all.