Posts Tagged ‘Michael Keaton’

Female Directors

September 15, 2011

Do you know who Jennifer Yuh Nelson is? Well, if you love animated films you should because she is the director of Kung Fu Panda 2. She recently hit a milestone where she became the highest grossing female director when Kung Fu Panda 2 grossed $645 Million. She beat Phyllida Lloyd, the director of Mamma Mia, whose film grossed $609 Million.

I’m very happy when anyone, male or female, is successful. Still, the milestone Yuh Nelson hit is extra special because Kung Fu Panda 2 is an animated film and not only are there not many female directors, there aren’t many females in animation period. So, kudos to her and may this encourage others to try their hand at either animation or film directing.

Of course, that got me thinking. (Here we go again.) Yuh Nelson and Lloyd aren’t the only female directors out there. There have been others who have made their mark behind the camera. Who are they? Well, gentle reader, read on to learn about some notable female directors.

Kathryn Bigelow
While winning the Oscar for The Hurt Locker put Bigelow on the movie making map, she directed other films such as Point Break and K-19: The Widowmaker. What they all have in common is they are very much guy flicks. The Hurt Locker deals with defusing bombs in the Iraq War. Point Break is an action film about an FBI agent infiltrating bank robbing gang. K-19: The Widowmaker is about a Soviet nuclear submarine that malfunctions and how the crew must work against the clock to save themselves from disaster. So, the stereotype of women directors making rom-coms or period pieces doesn’t fit Bigelow.

Sofia Coppola
Yes, she’s the daughter of Francis Ford Coppola. Still, her work stands on its own. With films such as The Virgin Suicides, Lost in Translation, Marie Antoinette and Somewhere, I’ll go out on a limb and say she’s on her way to becoming the type of director that university film professors will lecture about and show films to their students 20 years from now, if they aren’t already doing it now. Trust me, that’s a good thing, since Martin Scorsese and Steven Spielberg spent their university days watching films of the French New Wave.

Amy Heckerling
What films did she direct? How about Fast Times at Ridgemont High, with Sean Penn (which was his breakout role), Johnny Dangerously with Michael Keaton (before he went through his dark stage with Batman) and National Lampoon’s European Vacation, with Chevy Chase. Those are some real sensitive films, aren’t they?

Madonna
Madonna!? You must be saying now. Yes, her. Believe it or not Madge directed two films. Filth and Wisdom and her latest opus W.E. which deals with the relationship between Wallis Simspon, American divorcee and Edward Windsor, aka King Edward VIII who left the throne for her. My guess is that being married to director Guy Ritchie must have rubbed off on her and she decided to try making a movie. Movie critics felt she should stick to singing. Still, I wouldn’t count Madonna out yet. After all, sometimes it takes a few tries to get something right.

Penny Marshall
Here’s another female director that doesn’t do period pieces. She directed Big with Tom Hanks, Awakenings with Robin Williams and A League of Their Own with Madonna. In case you are wondering, yes, she was Laverne in the ABC sitcom Laverne & Shirley, which ran from 1976 to 1984.

Barbra Streisand
Yes, not only does she sing and act, but she also directs films, as well. Her first take at directing was with the film Yentl, in which she also starred in. wrote the screenplay and produced. She also did The Prince of Tides and The Mirror Has Two Faces. Okay, those two are chick flicks. Still, somebody has to please that demographic. Yet, Babs isn’t finished yet because, reports are that she will produce, direct and star in an adaptation of the Broadway play Gypsy. She is expected to play Momma Rose and she has experience with that since her own mother was something of a Backstage Mom.

Of course, there are more female directors, but I decided to focus on some notable ones who have been working since the 1980’s to the current time. So, I will end with Streisand and to all a good night or day, depending on what time of the day you are reading this.

Sources:
http://blogs.indiewire.com/womenandhollywood/archives/2011/09/07/jennifer_yuh_nelson_becomes_the_top_grossing_female_director/

http://www.womansday.com/Articles/Life/Entertainment/10-Surprising-Movies-Directed-by-Women.html

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0267626/

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0102685/

http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0001508/#Director

http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0001068/#Director

http://answers.encyclopedia.com/question/did-barbra-streisand-direct-any-films-108003.html

http://www.bleedingcool.com/2011/01/05/barbra-streisand-to-produce-direct-and-star-in-movie-version-of-gypsy/

http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20100111185918AAOUDtp

http://www.dose.ca/celebrity/5346132/story.html

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Successful Movie Franchises Part 2

July 28, 2011

In last week’s entry the reader was treated to tales of spies, villains and redemption. That’s right, the blog entry dealt with successful movie franchises. This week’s installment continues the story. Will good prevail? Will the hero get the girl? Read on and find out.

Batman/Superman
I combined them because they both started as comic books, then went to movie serials, then television and finally back to movies. They are also complex characters. They both lost their parents. They both are compelled to fight the good fight. Superman does it because his foster parents, the Kents instilled in him that his gifts must be used for the betterment of humanity. Batman does it because of survivor’s guilt. He saw his parents killed in a botched robbery and that spurred him to fight for justice.

While a lot could be said about the differences and similarities between the two, for now I’ll just focus on the films. As for Superman, there have been five movies about the Man of Steel, four starring the late Christopher Reeve in the title role (Superman films from 1978 to 1987) and one with actor Brandon Routh (Superman Returns). The films are:

Superman: The Movie 
1978
Superman II

1980
Superman III
1983
Superman IV: The Quest for Peace
“1987
Superman Returns
2006

Since Superman Returns was such a disappointment critically and commercially, I hope there will not be another Superman movie. It had a good run, give it a rest and think of something new.

Moving along to Batman, there have been six films. Where did I get that number from? Simple I included the very campy Batman film from 1966 starring Adam West and Burt Ward (yes, the television show did spawn a movie) As for the role call of actors, Adam West, Val Kilmer and George Clooney each portrayed the Dark Knight in one film, Michael Keaton portrayed the Caped Crusader twice and with the upcoming The Dark Knight Rises Christian Bale will have portrayed Batman in three films. If you want to know  the filmography, here it is:

Batman 1966 Adam West in the title role and Burt Ward as Robin
Batman
1989 Michael Keaton in the title role and Jack Nicholson as The Joker
Batman Returns
1992 Michael Keaton in the title role, Michelle Pfeiffer as Catwoman, and Danny DeVito as the Penguin
Batman Forever
1995 Val Kilmer in the title role and Chris O’Donnell as Robin
Batman + Robin
1997 George Clooney in the title role and Chris O’Donnell as Robin
Batman Begins
2005 Christian Bale in the title role
The Dark Knight
2008 Christian Bale in the title role and Heath Ledger as The Joker
The Dark Knight Rises
2012 expected release Christian Bale in the title role and Anne Hathaway as the Catwoman.

I hope The Dark Knight Rises is the last Batman movie—ever!  Director Christopher Nolan did a great job rebooting Batman and Christian Bale, like Michael Keaton, got the darkness of Batman/Bruce Wayne just right. After all, he’s not some rich guy with nothing better to do than fight bad guys. For all his wealth and for all the good that he does as Batman, Bruce Wayne cannot bring his parents back and therein lies his darkness. Still, like Superman, it had a good run. End it. Please!

Shrek
The thumb nosing tale to every Disneyesque motif out there spawned four films. Each of the films featured the voices of Mike Myers as the title character, as well as Cameron Diaz and Eddie Murphy. The films collectively have made over $1 billion in the U.S. Not bad for an orge, his wife and his donkey pal. In case you want to put these films in your Netflix queue, they are:

Shrek 2001
Shrek 2
2004
Shrek the Third
2007
Shrek Forever After
2010

This franchise looks like it is done. Yet, the careers of the three principal stars have stalled recently, so there just might be another one coming down the pike. Still, let’s hope the folks at Dreamworks decide not to greenlight Shrek 5: Insert Clever Subhead Here.

Spider-man
This franchise took a while to get off the ground. The motion picture rights were first purchased in 1985 but a combination of the story not being right to limits of technology delayed the movie from being made until 2000. It was finally released in 2002 with Sam Raimi as the director and Tobey Maguire as the title character. Three films where made with Raimi as the director and Maguire as Spidey and these three films made $1.1 billion dollars in the U.S. Yet Spider-man 3 got mixed reviews. So, there were plans to make a Spider-man 4, yet Sam Rami couldn’t meet the deadline of 2011. So, Sony Pictures cancelled Spider-man 4 and announced that the franchise would be rebootted with a new director and new cast. The rebootted Spider-man is expected to be released in 2012. Personally, I think it would have been better just to end the franchise with Spider-man 3. Spidey/Peter Parker battled his demons, got the bad guys and married Mary Jane Watson. There are loads of superheros in the Marvel universe, so there would be no lack of material for filmmakers to draw from. Again the list:

Spider-man 2002
Spider-man 2
2004
Spider-man 3
2007

Pirates of the Carribean
This movie franchise wasn’t based on a comic book or book or came from anyone’s imagination. This successful movie franchise is based on a ride of the same name at both Disneyworld in Orlando, Florida and Disneyland in Anaheim, California. The series stars Johnny Depp, Keira Knightly, Orlando Bloom and Geoffrey Rush. The idea of a pirate movie based on the ride was in development at Disney since the early 1990’s. When director Gore Verbinski came on board in 2002, he wanted to marry the fun of the ride with its supernatural aspects.  Well, it came as a great surprise that the film did well, because a pirate movie had not been successful for a very long time. To date the films have made over $1.2 billion in the U.S. That’s a lot of yo, ho, ho-ing and it won’t end because Johnny Depp has signed on for a fifth Pirates movie.

You know what is below:

Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl 2003
Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest
2006
Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End
2007 (Dead Man’s Chest and At World’s End were filmed simultantiously.)
Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides 2011

Thus ends the tale of the movie franchise. Tune in next time for another exciting tale from the world of movies, collecting and pop culture, brought to you by a Generation X’er with many writing credits and not to mention many movie posters for sale.

Sources:
http://www.supermanhomepage.com/other/other.php?topic=bizarro-files

http://gothamknightsonline.forumotion.com/t106-how-many-batman-movies-are-there-and-what-are-their-names

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

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

http://spiderman.wikia.com/wiki/Spider-Man_(film_series)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pirates_of_the_Caribbean_(film_series)

Superheroes & Movies—Perfect Together

June 10, 2010

It seems like superheroes were made with movies in mind. Cool costumes, evil villains and abilities that mere mortals just don’t have, add up to a must see movie.  So, which superheroes have made it to the silver screen?

Superman
Yes the grand-daddy of all superheroes and the model from which all subsequent superheroes are based upon. It started out as a movie serial, then it went to television, then it lead to five movies, four with the late Christopher Reeve and one with Brandon Routh. The Superman movies showed that if you put together good acting, good writing, (one of the writers of the screenplay for the first Superman movie was none other than Mario Puzo of Godfather fame) good directing and good special effects, you’ll end up with a great superhero movie.

Batman
This too, started out as a movie serial, then it went to television and subsequently six Batman movies were made. The first two had Michael Keaton as the Caped Crusader and Tim Burton as the director and it is my opinion that Keaton and Burton got the darkness of Bruce Wayne/Batman right. The movies seemed to have lost their way when Joel Schumacher took over, but things picked up with director Christopher Nolan and actor Christian Bale as Batman.

Spiderman
Not to be outdone by the folks at DC Comics, Marvel Comics had a Spiderman movie in the works since the 1980’s but for reasons such three independent production companies that went into bankrupty to the business health of Marvel Entertainment, the ideas were kept on paper until 2002. The rest of course is history. Note: I saw a trailer for the first Spiderman movie in August 2001 that featured a helicopter getting caught in a web that was spun between the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center.  That trailer was subsequently removed after 9/11. Still, it was a cool trailer.

The Incredible Hulk
Not only does this superhero have a troubling past, but the movies aren’t exactly hits. Part of it has to do with the story of Bruce Banner, a mild mannered scientist whose powers, which came about via an accidental exposure to gamma radiation, are activated only when he becomes angry. How do you fight the bad guys when you can’t really control your powers? Two movies, one released in 2003 and another released in 2008, tried to answer that question and box office results showed that they didn’t really answer that question to the satisfaction of moviegoers.

Ironman
Yet another superhero from Marvel Comics, this time it’s about a billionaire weapons manufacturer who creates a suit that allows him to fight the bad guys without suffering any harm. It was very successful at the box office and ushered in Robert Downey, Jr. return to film. Ironman 2 was released on May 7, 2010 and is doing well in the box office.

So, if you are thinking of creating a blockbuster movie, just mine the comic book vault.  Lots of people did and it worked for most of them all the way to the bank.

Sources:

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0078346/fullcredits#writers

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00005JPS8/ref=s9_simh_gw_p74_i3?pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_s=center-2&pf_rd_r=1D55TMD6W8KPNR2WV1DM&pf_rd_t=101&pf_rd_p=470938631&pf_rd_i=507846

http://articles.latimes.com/1999/mar/02/business/fi-13115/2

http://www.amazon.com/Incredible-Hulk-Screen-Edward-Norton/dp/B001DHXT2U/ref=sr_1_6?ie=UTF8&s=dvd&qid=1274903370&sr=1-6

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.