Posts Tagged ‘love story’

Summer of the Comic Book Movie

June 2, 2011

Yes, summer means longer days, school being out, vacations and blockbuster movies. Yet, this summer the studios will be putting out six, count’em six, movies based on comic books/graphic novels. What gives? There was a time when comic books were considered a sign of the downfall of civilization and were blamed for corrupting young minds. Even Stan Lee, the creator of Spiderman, Thor and other superheroes of the Marvel Comics universe, didn’t think too highly of comic books when he first started out. He became a comic book writer because he needed the money and Timely Comics, which later became Marvel, paid him very well for his work. Yet, many years later both he and movie studio executives realized that there’s storytelling gold in comic books. They have action, drama and a love story for when there’s a lull in the action.

Still, if there is going to be a superhero movie during the summer blockbuster season, there is usually one maybe two, not six. Well, here are my theories on the increase, at least for the summer of 2011, of superhero movies:

It’s still the economy, stupid.
Last summer people wanted to escape the recession with animated films, this year the escape “vehicle” is the superhero movie. While last year moviegoers wanted reminders of childhood, this year they want a hero to save them from unemployment and home foreclosure. Unfortunately, superheroes can’t do much about those things, but it is fun to imagine that they could. After all, the U.S. is still in the grips of a recession and escapist films have traditionally done well during difficult times. Last year’s summer blockbuster movie season saw $4.05 billion worth of ticket sales, so the studios must be doing something right.

They get the job done.
Why do people want a superhero? Because a superhero gets the job done. Superheroes get the bad guy without so much of a grumble and they do it with style. Just look at Superman, Batman Spiderman, Ironman and the like. They either have gadgets, strength or a little of both and they get the villain. Crime will not pay if a superhero is on the case.

The story of the superhero goes waaay back.
If you think the superhero story is a 20th century invention, think again. Stories such as Hercules and Samson show how far back the idea of a superhero goes—and those are just from the Western culture. Other cultures have their stories of someone who can perform amazing feats of strength for the good of a community. People all around the world and in all times have had to deal with evil and injustice, so it is no wonder that stories of a person with both amazing physical strength and the will to fight the good fight were told. They were and still are exercises in fantasy and an inspiration for others to fight the good fight, as well.

As for which superhero movies will be very successful and which ones will just bomb, I’ll most likely write about that in a future blog entry.

Sources:
http://www.reelzchannel.com/article/1082/summer-2011-preview-20-movies-well-be-talking-about-next-year/

Cantu, Hector, Heritage Magazine “Stan the Creator” Fall 2008, pg. 52

http://www.variety.com/article/VR1118023577.html?categoryid=1237&cs=1

 

Advertisements

Disasters Films of the 1970’s

May 26, 2011

Well, May 21, 2011 6:00 PM came and went and we’re all still here. All this talk about the end of the world got me thinking about how I can turn this into a blog entry. Then it hit me. (I’m talking about an idea, not a bolt of lightening.) I could do a blog entry on the disaster films of the 1970’s. After all, disasters flicks of the 1970’s have it all, action, drama, sometimes a secondary love story to keep the story going when there’s a lull in the action.

Also, what was going on 1970’s is similar to what is going on today, such as high energy prices, a war, a recession, high unemployment. In a way, is it not surprising that these films came out when they did and interestingly enough they were very successful, to boot. Yet, one would think that in such a situation, people would flock to see happy, escapist films, not films where people had to deal with earthquakes, fires, plane crashes or other catastrophes. My theory is that in a weird kind of way these films were escapist. The people watching these films were safe and sound in a movie theater, so they could comfort themselves with the thought, “Those people in the film REALLY have it bad.”

So, without further ado, here is a short list of disaster films of the 1970’s.

Airport 1970
What would happen if you got on a plane on a snowy night and one of the passengers carried a bomb?  No, this is not the latest terror plot, this is the plot of Airport. Based on the book of the same name by Arthur Hailey, the film stars Dean Martin, as pilot of the ill fated plane (in a rare dramatic turn), Burt Lancaster, as the airport’s manager and George Kennedy is the gruff mechanic who saves the day. This film was successful at the box office and spawned three sequels and the infamous Airplane! spoof movies.

The Poseidon Adventure 1972
Picture this: You’re on a cruise ship on New Year’s Eve. Everyone is at dinner, they’re happy and waiting for midnight to strike. Midnight comes and so does a tidal wave. Uh-oh. Well, that’s The Poseidon Adventure for you. But wait, there’s more than just a tidal wave. The wave turns the boat upside down, so people have to swim up to the bottom of the ship in the hopes of being rescued. Stars Ernest Borgnine, as a cop on his honeymoon, Stella Stevens, plays his wife, the prostitute who went straight and it also stars Gene Hackman, Shelly Winters and Roddy McDowell. This picture wasn’t a disaster at the box office and earned nine, count’em nine, Academy Award nominations. I guess this film floated the Academy’s boat. (Sorry, I couldn’t resist.)

Earthquake 1974
In the late 1970’s many a comedian made a joke out of the “Big One”, which is the earthquake that does more than just shake up California, but causes havoc. When I heard these jokes, I wondered where the comedians got this idea from. Then I saw the movie Earthquake on television and I stopped wondering. This movie came out just as the disaster flick was wearing thin, so its kind of a throw in everything but the kitchen sink, type of film.  It has major stars, such as Ava Gardner, Lorne Greene (as her father, no less, even though she was only 7 years younger then him), Charlton Heston and George Kennedy, as a gruff cop who saves the day. It has a disaster, i.e. the big earthquake that shakes Los Angeles to its core. It also has a cliché love story where businessman Heston has an affair with a young mother. The film didn’t win any awards, but it did feature a new sound system called  Sensurround. Yet, it this feature didn’t catch on for subsequent films. You think the fact that it was associated with the film Earthquake had something to do with it?

The Towering Inferno 1974
This film is considered the best of the disaster film genre, since the level of acting of its two major stars Paul Newman, as the architect of the the world’s tallest building and  Steve McQueen, in his last film role, as the fire chief who obviously wants to put out the fire, is top notch. The film also stars William Holden, as the chief builder, Richard Chamberlain (who plays the film’s villian, no less) as the electrican, Faye Dunaway and even Fred Astaire. Newman’s character returns from vacation and senses that something isn’t right with the building. He is proven right, as shoddy wiring starts a fire that quickly consumes the building, just as a high society party is going on at 129th floor. Who will be saved and who will go up in smoke? I don’t know. I guess, I’ll just have to watch the movie and find out.

Of course, this blog entry is no disaster, since no one was hurt in the writing of this entry. 

Sources:
http://www.amazon.com/Airport-Full-Screen-Burt-Lancaster/dp/B00000I1CJ/ref=cm_cr_pr_pb_t

http://www.amazon.com/Poseidon-Adventure-Special-Gene-Hackman/dp/B000EHSVNW/ref=sr_1_2?s=dvd&ie=UTF8&qid=1305945909&sr=1-2

http://www.amazon.com/Earthquake-Charlton-Heston/dp/6305137277/ref=sr_1_2?s=dvd&ie=UTF8&qid=1305943269&sr=1-2

http://www.amazon.com/Towering-Inferno-Special-Paul-Newman/dp/B000EHSVOG/ref=pd_sim_d_1

“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/

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

Other Centers of Movie Making

September 22, 2010

Shocking but true, the United States is not the only place in the world where there is a thriving film industry. There are other places that are making movies and they all aren’t the art house favorites (though a good many take that route).  So, what other countries are making films?

India
The country of Gandhi and outsourced call centers is also famous for Bollywood movies.  Bollywood movies are mostly musicals with comedy, love story and thrills thrown in for good measure. In other words, the guy always gets the girl at the end of a Bollywood film. The term Bollywood comes from a combination of the city of Bombay (now known as Mumbai) and Hollywood. Recently the Bollywood style of movie making has made its way to the mainstream with films like Bride and Prejudice and the Oscar winning Slumdog Millionaire. Both films found critical acclaim and box office success.

France
Films from France tend to be of the intellectual art house type and films like François Truffaut’s Shoot the Piano Player and Jean-Luc Godard Breathless are two shining examples. Those films were part of the French New Wave of the 1950’s and 1960’s, in which film conventions of Hollywood were re-imagined and the use of handheld cameras gave the films a “you are there” look. These films influenced a generation filmmakers throughout the world.

Italy
Italian films aren’t exactly intellectual. Instead they take familiar stories and tell them though the Italian cultural lens. They put their own spin on subjects such as mid-life crisis, coming of age and the Holocaust. Films that tackle these subjects are, respectively, Federico Fellini’s 8 ½, Giuseppe Tornatore’s Cinema Paradiso and Roberto Benigni’s Life is Beautiful.

Australia
The Land Down Under has a vigorous film industry, ranging from the irreverent Young Einstein, to the genre mixing Mad Max, which introduced the world to Mel Gibson, to the current Bran Nu Dae. Australian films are a mix of reflection on the country’s agrarian past, commentary on current events and cultural mashup. Yet, it all seems to work. Good on ya’ mate.

So if you are in the mood for a foreign film, check out films from the countries listed above. You’ll either laugh, cry or wonder what is going on.

Sources:
http://www.bollywoodworld.com/whatisbollywood/

http://www.amazon.com/Bride-Prejudice-Martin-Henderson/dp/B00094AS9U/ref=sr_1_1?s=dvd&ie=UTF8&qid=1284738812&sr=1-1

http://www.amazon.com/Slumdog-Millionaire-Dev-Patel/dp/B001P9KR8U/ref=sr_1_1?s=dvd&ie=UTF8&qid=1284739458&sr=1-1

http://www.amazon.com/8-1-2-Criterion-Collection/dp/B00005QAPH/ref=sr_1_2?s=dvd&ie=UTF8&qid=1284742131&sr=1-2

http://www.amazon.com/Cinema-Paradiso-Version-Philippe-Noiret/dp/B00007G207/ref=sr_1_4?s=dvd&ie=UTF8&qid=1284742359&sr=1-4

http://www.amazon.com/Life-Beautiful-Roberto-Benigni/dp/B00004D0DU/ref=sr_1_3?s=dvd&ie=UTF8&qid=1284742762&sr=1-3

http://www.amazon.com/Mad-Max-Special-Mel-Gibson/dp/B00005R2IS/ref=sr_1_1?s=dvd&ie=UTF8&qid=1284744210&sr=1-1