Posts Tagged ‘television’

Movie Characters You Wouldn’t Want to Meet in a Well Lit Alley

December 22, 2011

Never mind the saying that goes “I wouldn’t want to meet that person in a dark alley.” There are some movie characters that you wouldn’t want to meet in broad daylight. Who are some of these characters? Well, there’s…

Alex Forrest from Fatal Attraction
One of the most infamous movie of the 1980’s, which features the most psycho of psycho ex’s and is one of Glenn Close’s signature roles. There wasn’t even much a relationship for her to get worked up over. It was just a weekend fling with Michael Douglas’ character. Of course, when Michael Douglas’ character explains he’s married and things have to end, Alex isn’t just going to slink away and gripe about married men. Crank calls, acid on a car hood and a boiling pot that gives a whole new meaning to the phrase Rabbit Stew, all show how sick this woman is. In fact when this film was broadcast on television, I had to shut it off when I saw the pot-boiling scene. That scene scared me, because I knew immediately what was in there and I didn’t wait to see Anne Archer, who played Douglas’ wife in the film, lift the lid. I thought, “If this lady can kill some kid’s pet, who knows what she’s capable of and I don’t want to find out.”

Miranda Priestly from The Devil Wears Prada
Newly minted journalism graduate, Andrea Sachs, (Anne Hathaway) is hired as the assistant to the editor-in-chief of Runway Magazine, Miranda Priestly (Meryl Streep). Andrea soon learns that the job most gals would die for involves working for a boss who takes maliciousness to a whole new level. Miranda makes snide comments about Andrea’s sweater (“It’s not blue… it’s cerulean.”) and expects her to know what type of skirt Miranda means when she tells Andrea that she wants “skirts”. Yes, the boss is not only from hell, the boss also makes everyone’s life a living hell. Of course, it would be funny if there weren’t bosses like Miranda Priestly. Unfortunately for the majority of working folk, there are plenty of bosses, both male and female, like Miranda Priestly.

Avery Tolar from The Firm
If you’ve seen The Firm you’re probably wondering what’s so bad about Avery Tolar, who’s played by Gene Hackman? Yeah, he’s a lawyer, but he doesn’t make sarcastic remarks or threats. So, what’s the problem? The problem is that he is apathetically amoral. He knows that the law firm he works for is basically a tool of the Mafia. Maybe at one time he cared and thought about doing something about it. Unfortunately, he gave up and thought, “The hell with it.”  So, he just did his job, ate, drank and was merry and waited for what he thought was inevitable, death at the hands of the firm. That’s what makes his character so scary. He had lost hope and not having hope is scary.

Darth Vader from Star Wars Episodes IV – VI
Of course, I couldn’t leave out the baddest of bad guys. The man who killed his son’s adoptive parents, destroyed an entire inhabited planet, had his daughter tortured, had someone frozen in carbonite, was going to freeze his own son in carbonite, fought his own son in what was suppose to be a death match and cut off his son’s left hand. It’s pretty obvious the dude’s not to be messed with. Or is it? Remember Darth Vader started out as Anakin Skywalker, a noble Jedi Knight. Yet, as noble as he was, he was something of a lost soul. His mother had to stay behind on Tatooine while he went off to become a Jedi and she later died at the hands of the Sandpeople. He had to keep his love (and marriage) to Padme Amadala a secret. On top of that, somehow being a Jedi wasn’t enough and he was seduced by the Dark Side of the Sith. He lost Padme because of joining the Sith and never got to know his children. So, is he to be pitied, as well as feared? No, because in the end he redeems himself. In Episode VI, as the battle is raging in the space above and on the ground of Endor, Luke Skywalker, in the new Death Star, refuses to continue fighting Darth Vader. Therefore, the Emperor says, “So you shall die, Jedi” and starts zapping him. Luke cries out, “Father!” At that moment, Darth Vader picks up the Emperor and tosses him over a ledge. Vader is no longer lost. He sees that his son is in trouble and helps him. His love for son trumps any allegiance to the Sith and it brings him back to the way of the Jedi.

See, there is hope for all the bad guys out there to turn from their villainy. The thing is, they themselves have to see the error of their ways.

Sources:
http://www.amazon.com/Fatal-Attraction-Michael-Douglas/dp/B00005UPNS/ref=sr_1_4?s=movies-tv&ie=UTF8&qid=1323367591&sr=1-4

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0093010/

http://www.amazon.com/Devil-Wears-Prada-Widescreen/dp/B000J103PC/ref=cm_cr_pr_product_top

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0106918/

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0076759/

The Enduring Appeal of Movie Posters

December 15, 2011

As I was surfing the ‘Net looking for topics to write about I found few items that show both the evolution of movie posters and how they endure both as works of art and commerce.

First, there was an article in the December 3 San Diego Reader about rejected movie posters from the 1980’s. This article was just one in a series of articles about a collection of movie posters designs that the studios rejected. Most of these movie posters featured in the article were mock-ups or one of many versions that an artist created for studio executives to choose from. One of the posters featured was for the thriller Fatal Attraction. The mock up is on the left and the version that appeared in movie theaters is on the right.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
I like the one on the right, since the tagline of “On the other side of drinks, dinner and a one night stand is a terrifying love story” makes you wonder, “What do they mean by that?

Another web item featured pictures of Ghanaian movie posters. While I mentioned these types of movie posters in a previous entry, (you can read it in The Travels of American Culture  February 10, 2011) to refresh your memory, Ghanaian movie posters came about in the 1980’s as VCR’s and videocassettes were introduced in the African nation of Ghana. Independent contractors would drive around the countryside with a television, VCR and generator. They would stop in a particular town and for a small admission fee, they would show a movie, mostly American films. In order to advertise their show, they hired artists to create movie posters. These creations were made with oil paint and canvas. Sometimes the posters reflected the plot of the movie, other times they reflected the imagination of the artists. (See below.)


Well, by the mid 1990’s, as television and video became more available, these mobile cinemas fell by the wayside and the operators couldn’t afford the artists anymore, so they relied on photocopied movie posters. Subsequently, these posters became sought after by collectors and they have asking prices of $200 and up.

So, how do these two examples show the enduring appeal of movie posters? Don’t worry, I’m getting to that. Movie posters are the original multi-taskers. They are vehicles of both commerce and art. Movie posters, if they are designed well, pique the viewer’s curiosity about a film, later they serve to remind the viewer how much he or she enjoyed the film and are things of beauty, in and of themselves. If they didn’t meet these criteria in the first place, no one would want them. So, despite all the tech diversions out there, folks still have an affinity for a 27 inch x 40 inch piece of paper that features pictures of people in situations ranging from the absurd to realistic. “It’s the stuff that dreams are made of.”

Sources:
http://www.sandiegoreader.com/weblogs/big-screen/2011/dec/03/part-5-famous-movie-poster-rejects-youve-never-see/

http://blogtown.portlandmercury.com/BlogtownPDX/archives/2011/12/01/ghanas-movie-posters-are-better-than-americas-movie-posters

http://www.obsessedwithfilm.com/cool-stuff/cool-stuff-ghanaian-movie-posters.php

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)

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/

Can’t The Powers That Be Leave Well Enough Alone

December 2, 2010

Growing up, I watched a lot of television. Usually it was cartoons in the afternoon and sitcoms at night. The cartoons were a lot fun to watch, since they had zany characters, situations that looking back weren’t plausible but I was young and was willing to go along for the ride. After all, a rabbit that would approach a hunter and say “What’s up Doc?”, a woodpecker with wings that were more like arms and a very abnormal, bordering on pathological, laugh and a bear that wears a tie and a pork-pie hat whose companion/conscience is a bear cub that wears a bow tie would only work in the theater of the absurd world of cartoons.

Speaking of bears, in December 2010 a live action/computer animated movie called Yogi Bear will be released. Based on the cartoons characters created by the animation team of William Hanna and Joseph Barbera. The movie deals with a corrupt politician (is there any other kind when it comes to a movie) who wants to buy Jellystone Park and turn it into a logging plant. So, it is up to Yogi, Boo-Boo, (Yogi’s companion/conscience) Ranger Smith (the park ranger Yogi clashed with while in search of pic-a-nic baskets) and a wildlife photographer (the love interest thrown in for the sake of the movie) to band together in order to stop the mayor’s plan.

Really, whose bright (and I’m being sarcastic) idea is this? Still, just because the technology exists for a film like this to be made, doesn’t mean it should be made. What made Yogi Bear fun was sly subversiveness about it. The cartoons were made in the late 1950’s/early 1960’s when the life in the U.S. was very much about being Organizational Man (or the wife of the Organizational Man) and Yogi was thumbing his nose at that with every pic-a-nic basket he stole.

Also, let’s not forget that sometimes it is best to leave artifacts of the past in the past. Yogi and other Hanna Barbara television cartoons were products of their time and need to be remembered that way. If a Yogi Bear movie can be made, what’s next? Films where dead actors/actresses are digitally recreated and placed in a movie?  Yogi, Boo-Boo and Ranger Smith were two-dimensional characters and were enjoyed as such. It would be nice if they were left that way.

http://www.timeout.com/film/features/show-feature/10424/

http://www.amazon.com/Organization-Man-William-H-Whyte/dp/0812218191

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