Posts Tagged ‘Gone With The Wind’

“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/

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The Ethnic in Cinema

January 13, 2011

The good thing about writing this blog are the many ideas I can explore when it comes to pop culture as it relates to movies and collecting. In researching this week’s entry, I came across a notice for an exhibit in suburban Washington D.C. about African-American movie posters from 1915-1975. (To learn more about this exhibit, go to http://www.pgaamcc.org/exhibition/vintage_visionsafrican_american_movie_posters/)

That got me thinking (uh-oh you must be saying) about how the ethnic is portrayed in film. What do I mean by ethnic? For this blog entry, I mean any non-WASP person that lives in the United States. Yes, that covers a lot of territory. So, what are some of the ways that ethnics have been portrayed?  Well there’s:

Subservient
Almost every phrase that comes out of the ethnic’s mouth is preceded by a “Yes, sir/Yes, ma’am” and the ethnic knows that it is futile to rock the class boat, so he or she doesn’t. The most famous example of this is Gone with the Wind. Granted GWTW is not history, it is a love story that takes place  during the years before, during and after the American Civil War, still its sanitized view of slavery and life in the American South irritates me.

Old World Ways/New World Opportunity
The paradox that every immigrant to the U.S. faces, how to reconcile the traditional with the modern, what parts of the old must tossed aside and what parts of the new can be integrated with the old. Some, like Charlie Chan in all those Charlie Chan movies seamslessly blend the two and uses them both for his benefit and the benefit of others. (FYI: The character of Charlie Chan was based on a real life Chinese-American police detective from Honolulu by the name of Chang Apana.) Others, like Toula in My Big Fat Greek Wedding finds her true self in the mix of old and new and uses this knowledge to create a life she can be proud of. Either way, the ethnic does what one can and the ethnic lives happily ever after.

Bright-Eyed Innocent
To steal a line from Russian-American comedian Yakov Smirnoff, “What a country!” Where else can children dress up as monsters and beg candy off of strangers. That’s not the only great thing about the U.S. Some, like the characters in the independent film Amreeka are attracted to the U.S. as a sanctuary against oppression. Others, like the title character in Borat, seek to find out what the U.S. is really like—with comedic results.

Gets the Pie by Hook and Crook (Especially the Crook Part)
No doubt, it is hard to integrate into a new country. Some people when faced with difficulties, work harder to achieve a good life for themselves and their family. Others, when faced with difficulties, turn to criminal activity to achieve a good life for themselves and their family. Films such as Godfather movies, Little Caesar and Scarface (both the 1932 and 1983 versions) show both the rise and fall of these individuals. As the saying goes, “You live by the sword…”

So, there you have it folks, different views of the ethnic. What other views of the ethnic will there be? It all depends on the point the either the movie’s director or screenwriter or actor or actress wants to make.

Sources:

http://www.amazon.com/Gone-Wind-Anniversary-Ultimate-Collectors/dp/B001MS7H3W/ref=sr_1_5?s=dvd&ie=UTF8&qid=1294437209&sr=1-5

http://www.amazon.com/My-Big-Fat-Greek-Wedding/dp/B00006FMUW/ref=sr_1_1?s=dvd&ie=UTF8&qid=1294437975&sr=1-1

http://charliechanfamily.tripod.com/

http://www.lib.berkeley.edu/MRC/imagesarabs.html

http://www.amazon.com/Borat-Cultural-Learnings-Kazakhstan-Widescreen/dp/B000MMMT9G/ref=sr_1_3?s=dvd&ie=UTF8&qid=1294438140&sr=1-3

http://www.amazon.com/Little-Caesar-Edward-G-Robinson/dp/B0006HBLUK/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1294604689&sr=8-1

http://www.amazon.com/Scarface-Full-Screen-Anniversary-Pacino/dp/B0000AMRJD/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1294604508&sr=8-4

Name That Genre

October 27, 2010

Movie posters not only tell you what movie is playing, they also tell you about the genre of the movie. Images, as much as the title, play a role in letting the viewer know whether the film in question is a romance, comedy, horror or action movie. So, let’s see if you can guess what genre is being portrayed based on the following descriptions

1) Scantily clad damsel in distress, if the poster is pre 1960 or realistic image in an absurd setting for post 1960’s posters.

2) Male and female gazing at each other or in an embrace.

3) Physically fit protagonist holding a weapon.

4) Main characters in an odd pose, in extreme close up or in an odd situation.

A) Comedy            B) Romance            C) Horror            D)Action

Answers
1) C, Horror. Yes, before the 1960’s the horror posters were remiss if they didn’t feature a damsel that was about to be harmed by the monster/malevolent entity. Classic poster that play on this theme are The Creature from the Black Lagoon, The Blob and The Mummy. You can find pictures of these posters here:

http://designcrave.com/2010-10-06/101-vintage-campy-horror-movie-posters/.

After the 1960’s, as movie posters moved from drawn to photographed and later Photoshopped posters, they took on a realistic yet bizarre situations. Examples of this are 28 Weeks Later, The Mist and Nightmare on Elm Street (the original 1984 release) You can find pictures of these posters here:

http://www.iwatchstuff.com/2007/03/21/28-weeks-later-poster.jpg

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/a/a1/The_Mist_poster.jpg

http://www.allposters.com/gallery.asp?startat=/getposter.asp&APNum=1373352&CID=ABE8DB38B5C24855B857748A2E6EC033&PPID=1&search=671&f=c&FindID=671&P=1&PP=15&sortby=PD&cname=Horror+Movies&SearchID=

2) B, Romance. Yes, From Gone With The Wind to Love Story to Titanic to The Time Travelers Wife and loads of movies in between, this is one genre that didn’t change its presentation when posters moved from drawn to photographed creations. The male and female leads are very prominent in the poster. They are either in an embrace, gazing into each other’s eyes or sharing a tender moment together. Sigh Ain’t love grand. You can find pictures of these posters here:
http://www.google.com/images?hl=en&expIds=17259,26637,27155&sugexp=ldymls&xhr=t&q=romance+movie+posters&cp=6&um=1&ie=UTF-8&source=univ&ei=f026TP3HAoL78Abd9NWYDw&sa=X&oi=image_result_group&ct=title&resnum=1&sqi=2&ved=0CEMQsAQwAA&biw=1024&bih=597

http://www.moviegoods.com/movie_poster/love_story_1970.htm

3) D, Action. Arnold, Sly, The Rock, Jean Claude and Bruce don’t indulge in pork rinds and beer. They’re too busy either chasing after bad guys or running from bad guys. When they aren’t chasing after bad guys, they are lifting big heavy weapons and using them to shoot the bad guys. Movie posters such as those from the Terminator series, the Die Hard series and the Rambo series show the protagonist with a weapon and a look of “I’m ready for a fight.” You can find pictures of these posters here:

http://www.google.com/images?um=1&hl=en&biw=1024&bih=597&tbs=isch%3A1&sa=1&q=Action+movie+posters&aq=f&aqi=g1&aql=&oq=&gs_rfai=

4) A, Comedy. What do You Don’t Mess With The Zohan, Get Him To The Greek, and Evan Almighty have in common? Yes, they are all comedy movie posters and they all show the protagonist in an odd pose, in extreme close up or in an odd situation. After all, the powers that be are trying to sell a comedy. You can find pictures of these posters here:
http://www.google.com/images?um=1&hl=en&biw=1024&bih=597&tbs=isch%3 A1&sa=1&q=Comedy+movie+posters&aq=f&aqi=g1g-m1&aql=&oq=&gs_rfai=

Of course, not even the best designed movie poster can turn a dud into a classic, but I have to admit that movie posters of any genre look cool and some are more cool looking than others. As to which are which, that’s a blog entry for another time.

Sources:
http://designcrave.com/2010-10-06/101-vintage-campy-horror-movie-posters/

http://www.movieweb.com/news/NEa455dB7tc7cb

http://www.iwatchstuff.com/2007/03/21/28-weeks-later-poster.jpg

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/a/a1/The_Mist_poster.jpg

http://www.allposters.com/gallery.asp?startat=/getposter.asp&APNum=1373352&CID=ABE8DB38B5C24855B857748A2E6EC033&PPID=1&search=671&f=c&FindID=671&P=1&PP=15&sortby=PD&cname=Horror+Movies&SearchID=

http://www.google.com/images?hl=en&expIds=17259,26637,27155&sugexp=ldymls&xhr=t&q=romance+movie+posters&cp=6&um=1&ie=UTF-8&source=univ&ei=f026TP3HAoL78Abd9NWYDw&sa=X&oi=image_result_group&ct=title&resnum=1&sqi=2&ved=0CEMQsAQwAA&biw=1024&bih=597

ROI From Hollywood Collectibles

September 29, 2010

Recently, I read on Moviematics.com that movie posters, particularly classic movie posters, can be good investments. I also read on Paul Fraser Collectibles.Com that said if a certain item is mentioned in or associated with a successful movie, the value of said item goes up.

Those articles got me thinking. After all, I’ve stated many times on this blog that I don’t recommend people buy movie posters or movie collectibles as investment vehicles, because no one knows which movies will become classics and which ones will be duds. So, I read the articles and found that the authors made good points about collecting with an eye towards return on investment.  Regarding movie posters, Moviematics.com mentions:

Rarity
Take the 1931 classic horror film Dracula, starring Bela Lugosi. There are only three original movie posters from that film in existence.  One of those posters recently sold on an online auction for over $300,000.  If there more than three Dracula posters, they wouldn’t command those kinds of prices.

The Movie Itself
Classic movies, like Gone with the Wind or The Wizard of Oz have seen movie posters, props and costumes sell very well at auction.  Flops, like Krull* wouldn’t do very well in an auction.

Who Starred in the Movie
Movie posters featuring the likes Marlon Brando, James Dean, Marilyn Monroe, Audrey Hepburn, do well for two reasons. One, they are all dead, which is related to rarity. Two, they starred in classic films, which is related to the movie itself.

What about items associated with a movie?  What’s so great about them? Well according to Paul Fraser Collectibles.Com:

Valuable Before More Valuable After
Items associated with the H.M.S. Titanic were valuable before the film Titanic was released in 1997.  Subsequently, they went up in value after the film’s theatrical release.

Possible To Plan Ahead
A film about Margaret Thatcher is going to be made and reports state that none other than Meryl Streep (Need an accent? Call…) is on board as the Iron Lady. That should renew interest in Thatcher’s political career and England in the 1980’s. Also, there will be two more Harry Potter movies scheduled for release and that should increase the value of things related to Harry Potter movies and series author J.K. Rowling.

My advice remains not to buy a movie poster or other collectible for investment value. Still, it never hurts to research what you plan to buy. After all, knowledge is power.

When it comes to investing, there are other investments vehicles out there and if you are interested in one of them, don’t ask me. Instead, consult a financial advisor as to which one is right for you.
Sources:

http://www.moviematics.com/2010/08/17/classic-movie-posters-a-great-investment/4004/

http://www.paulfrasercollectibles.com/section.asp?catid=73&docid=3826

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0085811/


* Krull, released in 1983, is a movie about a world that is about to be invaded by aliens, and a prince and princess marry in order to unite their world and fight the enemy. The princess is kidnapped and prince goes on quest to find her. The film stars Ken Marshall, Lysette Anthony and Liam Neeson (yes that Liam Neeson)

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