Posts Tagged ‘The Hobbit’

2012 Summer Movies

April 26, 2012

The weather is getting warmer. The days are getting longer. That can only mean one thing:

The summer movie season is coming!

In addition to not having to go to school, it was the summer movies that made me count the days to summer vacation. The films that come out during the summer have it all, action, drama, comedy, romance and lots of cool special effects to keep things from getting boring.

In addition to the usual mix of superhero and animated films, this year’s batch of summer films are based on the following:

  • A nonfiction book
  • A book by Saddam Hussein
  • A Broadway play
  • Two fairy tales
  • A 1960’s soap opera

So, here are a few I would like to highlight.

May
The Avengers

A superhero film that Marvel fans have been waiting for, since it features, Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, Hawkeye, Black Widow and the Hulk. Phew! That’s a lot of superheros. Expect to see a lot of fanboys on opening night. How can you tell the fanboys from the regular moviegoers? Simple the fanboys will be wearing either Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, Hawkeye, Black Widow or the Hulk t-shirts. This film opens on May 4.

Dark Shadows
Would you believe that in the 1960’s there was a soap opera about a vampire? Yes it is true and it was called Dark Shadows. The soap opera was about the Collins family and one member in particular, Barnabas Collins, who was cursed to live as a vampire by a witch. The show ran on ABC from 1966 to 1971 and developed a cult following, which lead to films and a brief return to television in the 1990’s. Now Tim Burton has directed the theatrical version, with Helena Bonham Carter as psychologist Dr. Julia Hoffman and none other than Johnny Depp as Barnabas Collins, the very reluctant vampire. The film opens on May 11.

The Dictator
Here’s something else from the “Would You Believe” file. Saddam Hussein wrote a book. Yes, it is true and it is a work of fiction called Zabibah and the King. The book is about a love affair between a wise king and a beautiful peasant named Zabibah. Now would you believe that Sacha Baron Cohen made a film based on this book? Yes, this is true, as well. This film stars Cohen as the title character, as well as Megan Fox and John C. Reilly. It opens on May 11. By the way, I think theater managers would like it if you leave the pancake mix at home.

What to Expect When You’re Expecting
Who wants to watch a movie that features women at various stages of their pregnancy? Neither do I.  This stars Cameron Diaz, Isla Fisher and Jennifer Lopez and opens on May 11.

June
Rock of Ages

Who wants to play air guitar and jump up and down on a sofa?  Obviously Tom Cruise does, since he is starring in this film based on the Broadway play of the same name. This film also stars Russell Brand and Alec Baldwin. It opens on June 1.

Jack the Giant Killer
The trend of fairy tales to the big screen continues with a retelling of Jack and the Beanstalk. This is a motion capture film that was partially filmed in the forest that inspired J.R.R. Tolkien to write The Hobbit. The films stars Stanley Tucci, Ewan McGregor and Bill Nighy, and it opens on June 15.

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter
Honest Abe was a vampire hunter as well as a president who tried to keep the country together? Wow, the dude burned the candle at both ends. Actually, this is a film by director Timur Bekmambetov, the man who brought us Wanted, and it stars Dominic Cooper, Anthony Mackie and Benjamin Walker. The film opens on June 22.

Brave
A soon to be classic from the folks at Pixar. This film features a female protagonist who has to use her moxie and archery skills to undo a curse. Features the voices of Billy Connelly, Emma Thompson and Kelly MacDonald. The film opens on June 22.

July
The Amazing Spider-Man

Another movie Marvel fanboys have been waiting for. Personally, I think the reboot was unnecessary. The powers that be could have ended it at Spider-Man 3 and concentrated on other superheros in the Marvel universe.  Of course, the fanboys will be easy to pick out in the audience, since they will be the ones wearing the Spider-Man t-shirts. The film stars Andrew Garfield, Martin Sheen, and Sally Field and it open on July 3.

Ice Age: Continental Drift
Another animated film for the summer and another installment in the Ice Age “saga”.  This time an iceberg is involved and it is used for a good purpose. The film features the voices of Ray Romano, Denis Leary and John Leguizamo and opens on July 13.

The Dark Knight Rises
Yet another film that fanboys have been waiting for, albeit this film is the one DC fanboys have been counting the days and hours to and guess what t-shirts they will be wearing? Anyway, it features Anne Hathaway as Catwoman. I admit, I’ve been looking forward to this film because I want to see how Christopher Nolan ends the trilogy and I do hope this is the end of any and all Batman films. Directors Tim Burton and Christopher Nolan captured the darkness of Batman very well. Things got lost when director Joel Schumacher took over. So, let’s end it with The Dark Knight Rises and if the powers that be wants to do another superhero film let them pick from other characters in the DC Comics universe. The film stars Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman and Anne Hathaway, and opens on July 20.

Here Comes the Boom
Here comes a comedy about a mixed martial arts fighter. Sounds like it will become a classic, like Citizen Kane. Don’t you think? Yeah, I don’t think so, either. It stars Kevin James and Salma Hayek, and open on July 27.

August
The Bourne Legacy

This Bourne movie doesn’t feature Matt Damon, but it does feature Jeremy Renner, Rachel Weisz and Edward Norton. The film opens on August 3.

Total Recall
Talk about your useless remakes. The one with Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sharon Stone was good enough. Can’t the powers that be greenlight something original for a change? (Yes, I know I say that a lot.) Anyway the film stars Colin Farrell and Kate Beckinsale and opens on August 3.

The Expendables 2
If you like shoot’em up movies with explosions and car chases, then this is the film for you. Stars Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham and Bruce Willis and opens on August 17.

ParaNorman
Now this film sound interesting and original. It is a stop action animation film about a boy who can speak to (as well as see) dead people and uses this skill to save his town from an old, old curse. Features the voices of Leslie Mann, Anna Kendrick and Casey Affleck and opens on August 17.

Well, those are just a sampling of the movies that will be coming out this summer. Just be sure to save me a middle seat in the middle row.

Sources:
http://www.reelz.com/article/1421/summer-2012-preview-25-movies-well-be-talking-about-next-year/

http://www.collinwood.net/info/

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1589395859/ref=pd_lpo_k2_dp_sr_1?pf_rd_p=486539851&pf_rd_s=lpo-top-stripe-1&pf_rd_t=201&pf_rd_i=1589396138&pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_r=1FQXRKHC99VX0TRB9DSW

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1217209/

Lost and Found

January 26, 2012

Not too long ago, I learned that an animated version of The Hobbit, J.R.R. Tolken’s prequel to Lord of the Ring was found. This version is over 11 minutes long and dates from 1966. It was designed by Czech illustrator Adolf Born and was written and directed by Tom and Jerry animator Gene Deitch and you can watch it here:

As you can guess, this discovery got me thinking about other lost and found films. There are many films, most from the early days of motion pictures that have become lost, either through neglect, accident or the nitrates ate away at the film and there is nothing left to watch. There are also many films that were, and still are, languishing in a closet somewhere, only to be found when someone knocks something over or lifts up a box.  So, I have put together a list of some films that are lost and some films that were found.

Lost
The Story of the Kelly Gang
(1906)
This film tells the tale of Australia’s most famous criminal or “bushranger” Ned Kelly. Directed by Melbourne native Charles Tait, the film was a popular and critical success and lead to a succession of bushranger films. Soon these type of films were banned in several Australian states because they romanticized crime and criminals. Unfortunately, at the turn of the 20th century, studios didn’t realize the historical significance of saving a film, like The Story of the Kelly Gang. So, there was no procedure put in place to preserve these films for future generations, hence it became lost. Still, the film has not entirely disappeared. Nine minutes of footage was found in a deserted house in 1979 and just before the film’s 100th anniversary, Australia’s National Film and Sound Archive contacted archives around the world in regards to the film. As it turned out, the British Film Institute had an incomplete film labeled “Kelly Gang,” and it contained more footage of the film. While, it is far from complete, there was enough footage to get a feel for the film and that was added to a DVD of the film.

Humorisk (or Humor Risk) (1920s)
Would you believe that the Marx Brothers made a silent film? Yes, it is true. In fact, it was their first film and they played different characters to the ones that they became famous for. Reports are that Groucho didn’t like this film, so he purchased it and destroyed all prints and negatives. Ouch! That’s taking the killing of your darlings to extremes.

Catch My Soul (1974)
Conventional wisdom states that most of the films that became lost were from the early years of the 20th century. For the most part that’s true, the exception is Catch My Soul. This is a rock opera based on Shakespeare’s Othello and has folk singer Richie Haven as the lead. The film was directed by Patrick McGoohan, who was the lead actor in the famous television show of the 1960’s The Prisoner. The film got poor reviews and one critic said that it was “pricelessly funny” without meaning to be, since it was dramatic film. Wait, it gets worse. According to McGoohan, one of the producers found religion and added 15 minutes of religious material to the film. McGoohan didn’t like that and tried to have his name removed from the credits. The next year it was re-titled as Santa Fe Satan and then it disappeared. So, check your closets and attics, keep an eye open at flea markets and while checking out stuff on eBay, because a print of this film might show up in those places.

Found
Cléopâtre
  (1899)
No, this is not the one with Liz and Dick. This is a French film and the earliest horror film made. This film deals with the re-animated mummy of Cleopatra and the havoc she creates. It was thought to be lost until 2005 when a print of the film was found. So, now the French film canon includes more than just chain smokers who discuss the meaning of life in sidewalk cafes.

Richard III (1912)
This is a film adaptation of the Shakespeare play of the same name and is considered the oldest American feature film in existence. It featured the, then, famous actress Sarah Bernhardt. This film was thought lost until 1996 when a high quality print was found.

Metropolis  (1927)
This film wasn’t lost like the other films mentioned. Rather, after it’s premiere in Berlin, the film was cut from its original 153 minutes to 90 minutes. Restoration was done in 2001 with combined footage from several archives and that brought the film up to 124 minutes. That version was considered to be the most complete version until 2008 when a 16 mm negative was found in, of all places, Buenos Aires. This negative contained 25 minutes of lost footage. This footage was integrated with the 2001 version in 2010 and now the film is as close to director Fritz Lang’s original version of the film as possible.

The lost and found films mentioned in this blog entry demonstrate the importance of archiving films. After all, whether a film becomes a classic or a flop, it is part of the historical record of the studio that made it, so it needs to be saved for future generations. It also demonstrates the importance of keeping track of your own stuff. After all, if you lose your stamp, coin or baseball card collection, do you think the Smithsonian Institute will help you find it?

Of course, it you have any information about the lost films mentioned in this blog entry, please contact the following film archives: 

Australia
National Film and Sound Archive of Australia
McCoy Circuit, Acton ACT 2601
GPO Box 2002,Canberra ACT 2601
Email: enquiries@nfsa.gov.au
http://nfsa.gov.au

USA
National Film Preservation Board
Library of Congress (4690)
Motion Picture, Broadcasting & Recorded Sound Division
101 Independence Avenue SE
Washington DC 20540
Attn: Steve Leggett, Staff Coordinator
Email: sleg@loc.gov
http://www.loc.gov/film/

The author would like to thank Gene Deitch for his assistance with this blog entry.

Sources:
http://www.movieweb.com/news/the-hobbit-long-lost-animated-short-discovered

http://www.screenjunkies.com/movies/movie-lists/9-famous-lost-films-that-have-been-rediscovered/

http://www.mentalfloss.com/blogs/archives/70351

http://www.kino.com/metropolis/restoration.html#rest