Posts Tagged ‘Late 1970’s’

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.

The Sequel Strikes Again

April 29, 2010

Recently, it was reported on Empire Online that Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones are confirmed for Men in Black III and it will be a 3D film. The expected release date is May 30, 2011.

Since the late 1970’s, there have been sequels galore. Notable examples are the Star Wars films and Star Trek films. Yet, it wasn’t always like this. Up until the 1970’s a film was made, it was a success or failure and that was that. The characters were never revisited and the story was not continued. Of course, the exception was the James Bond films. The movie going public in years past were willing to accept that Elsa never saw Rick again, Dorothy never returned to the land of Oz and while Scarlett said that she was going to get Rhett back, it was seen as wishful thinking on her part.

My theory is the establishment of episodic television shows lead a desire in the movie going public to know what happens next. It wasn’t enough to have the main characters ride off into the sunset. People wanted to know if Luke Skywalker became a Jedi and defeated Darth Vader or if the crew of the Enterprise found Spock and saved the whales.[1]

I like sequels. There I said it. The Star Wars films are among my favorite movies. I saw Shrek and Shrek 2 and liked them both. I like the Star Trek films with the original television cast, the Next Generation cast and the J.J. Abrams reboot. Also, The Dark Knight was a blockbuster film that I felt was more thought provoking than most blockbuster films.

Of course, not every movie benefits from a sequel and after a while, the story gets old. The two Tim Burton Batman movies were great. Burton and Michael Keaton in the title role got the darkness and the tortured soul of Batman/Bruce Wayne right. When Joel Schumacher took over the franchise, the movies were just about some rich guy who dresses up and chases bad guys. Also, as many Trekkies know, some Star Trek films are better than others.

Still, the powers that be in Hollywood don’t want to mess with a good formula. So, if a movie made lots of money, more often than not a sequel is in order. As the engineers say, “If it works, it works.”

Source:
http://www.empireonline.com/news/feed.asp?NID=27639


[1] Star Wars Episodes IV-VI and Star Trek II & III respectively.