Posts Tagged ‘Tom Hanks’

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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2011 Summer Movie Review

September 8, 2011

The first Monday in September is Labor Day in the U.S. and that day is considered the unofficial end of summer. It also marks the end of the summer movie season. This year’s summer movie season saw its share of blockbusters and bombs. Box office totals for this summer movie season have not been released in time for me to include in this blog entry.  Still, early indications are that the 2011 summer movie season was good, though not great, for the studios. Anyway, without further ado, here are some highlights of the 2011 summer movie season.

Blockbusters
This just in! Nine out of the 10 biggest money making films were either sequels or superhero films. Okay, so that isn’t such a big surprise. Then again, that’s what I like about summer movies. They are exercises in escapist entertainment. There’s a good guy and a bad guy, good guy gets the bad guy and the good guy gets the girl in the end. Not to mention, there loads of cool special effects to liven things up. Yes, I go on and on about the lack of originality in the current moviemaking environment, still if a blockbuster is original, I’ll go and see it. Of course, millions of other people went to see blockbusters this summer (original or not), as well, and here is the breakdown for you. Box office numbers are for the U.S. only.

1. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows
$366,007,900
2. Transformers: Dark of the Moon
$348,540,006
3. The Hangover Part II
$254,174,506
4. Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides
$240,141,369
5. Fast Five           
$209,837,675
6. Cars 2           
$186,951,457
7. Thor
$181,015,141
8. Bridesmaids           
$167,661,310
9. Captain America: The First Avenger                   
$164,747,643
10. Kung Fu Panda 2                                                    
$163,942,842

Bombs
Of course, not every film was a hit. Some movies were just plain bad and the audiences responded accordingly by staying away. Some movies just didn’t find or attract their audience. Then there were some that just had people scratching their heads. So, in case you were wondering, here is a breakdown of the summer movies of 2011 that bombed at the box office (as opposed to being the bomb). Again, box office numbers are for the U.S. only.

1. Snow Flower and the Secret Fan
$    1,300,000
2. Glee The 3D Concert Movie                                 

$  11,700,000
3. Fright Night                                                            

$  14,300,000
4. Judy Moody and the Not Bummer Summer
$  15,000,000
5. Conan The Barbarian                                           

$  16,600,000
6.
Priest
$  29,100,000
7. The Change Up                                                        

$  34,500,000
8.
Larry Crowne                                                         
$  35,600,000
9.
Cowboys & Aliens                                                   
$  93,500,000
10.Green Lantern                                                        

$116,000,000

What Do I Think
I’m not surprised that the movies in the Blockbuster list did well. After all, Pixar films  have done well. The last Harry Potter film was scheduled for this summer and if it wasn’t going to do well, loads of people would have lost their jobs and we would have heard all about it and then some.

I’m also not surprised that Conan The Barbarian, The Change Up and Priest bombed. In particular, Conan The Barbarian is one of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s signature roles. He knew how to play an action figure better than anyone else. So, the expectation was pretty high for Conan. When it didn’t meet expectations—bombs away! As for the Green Lantern, I thought it would be this summer’s Iron Man. Unfortunately, for DC Comics and Warner Brothers, it wasn’t. Still, there are loads of superheroes in the DC universe. So, there are other comics books they can greenlight for movies.

As for Larry Crowne and Cowboys & Aliens, I am surprised and disappointed that these films didn’t do as well as expected. They each had a lot going for them, namely A-list stars and good concepts. Yet, for Larry Crowne, I think the problem was that it came out in July, as opposed to August. July is when the blockbusters are blasting away at the multiplex. August is when the studios release films that aren’t exactly shoot’em ups.  As big as Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts are, if the movie they are in is going to be released in July, there better be a car chase and shooting at bad guys or else no one will see it. After all, The Help was released in August and it is doing very well without having explosions or car chases. Now Cowboys & Aliens, talk about an original idea that didn’t go very far. Having cowboys fight aliens—why didn’t I think of that? Why didn’t it do better and why did the The Hangover Part II make over $348 million at the box office?  The world will never know.

On that happy note, I say farewell and invite you to come back next week for another exciting read about the world of movies, movie posters and collecting.

Sources:
http://movies.yahoo.com/photos/collections/gallery/3572/2011-summer-box-office#photo0

http://movies.yahoo.com/news/summer-box-office-s-10-biggest-flops-of-2011.html

Successful Movie Franchises Part 1

July 21, 2011

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2, the last film in the Harry Potter series opened on July 15, 2011 and made $168.5 million in the U.S. its opening weekend.  This film means the end of the Harry Potter movie franchise. The series made over $6 billion worldwide, made stars of Daniel Radcliffe (Harry Potter), Emma Watson (Hermione Granger) and Rupert Grint (Ron Weasley) and it made book series author,  J.K. Rowling a very happy (and rich) camper. Not bad for an idea Rowling thought of while riding the train.

Of course, Harry Potter isn’t the only movie franchise. There are others, so let’s explore the world of movie franchises and let’s see what we will find.

James Bond
“Bond. James Bond.” The smoothness. The gadgets. The women. The double entondres. There only one Bond, M6 spy and lady (and bad guy) killer extraordinaire. Actually no, there have been nine actors, Barry Nelson, David Niven, Sean Connery, George Lazenby, Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton, Pierce Bronson and Daniel Craig, who played James Bond and 22 official Bond films made by Eon Productions. In case you are wondering, they are:

Dr. No (1962-Sean Connery)
From Russia With Love
(1963-Sean Connery)
Goldfinger
(1964-Sean Connery)
Thunderball
(1965-Sean Connery)
You Only Live Twice
(1967-Sean Connery)
On Her Majesty’s Secret Service
(1969-George Lazenby)
Diamonds Are Forever
(1971-Sean Connery)
Live and Let Die
(1973-Roger Moore)
The Man with the Golden Gun
(1974-Roger Moore)
The Spy Who Loved Me
(1977-Roger Moore)
Moonraker
(1979-Roger Moore)
For Your Eyes Only
(1981-Roger Moore)
Octopussy
(1983-Roger Moore)
A View to a Kill
(1985-Roger Moore)
The Living Daylights
(1987-Timothy Dalton)
Licence to Kill
(1989-Timothy Dalton)
GoldenEye
(1995-Pierce Brosnan)
Tomorrow Never Dies
(1997-Pierce Brosnan)
The World is Not Enough
(1999-Pierce Brosnan)
Die Another Day
(2002-Pierce Brosnan)
Casino Royale
(2006-Daniel Craig)
Quantum of Solace
(2008-Daniel Craig)

Three films were not made by Eon Productions and they not considered part of the Bond canon. These unofficial films are:

Casino Royale (1954-Barry Nelson)
Casino Royale
(1967-David Niven & Peter Sellers)
Never Say Never Again
(1983-Sean Connery)

What is it about the Bond movies that keep people coming back for more? Is it the smoothness, the gadgets, the women and the double entondres? I’m sure that’s part of it. I say it is the fact that there will always be bad guys, whether communist spies, billionaires obsessed with world domination or other malcontents run amok that need disciplining. So, who’s going to take out the garbage?

Bond. James Bond.

Star Wars
Love him or hate him, you have to hand it to director and creator George Lucas. He took the ancient story of the vision quest/reluctant hero/redemption of the villain and milked it for all it was worth. How much did the Star Wars films make? How does $4 billion worldwide sound to you? Sounds very good to me and that’s just the money made at the box office. That total does not include the books, toys and other items in the Star Wars product universe. So, if you would like to put Star Wars films in your Netflix queue here are the titles:

Star Wars (aka Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope) (1977)
Star Wars Episode V The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
Star Wars Episode VI Return of the Jedi (1983)
Star Wars Episode I The Phantom Menace (1999)
Star Wars Episode II Attack of the Clones (2002)
Star Wars Episode III Revenge of the Sith (2005)

Star Trek
Another space opera that did very well for its creator, Gene Roddenbury. Whereas Star Wars is steeped in myth, Star Trek is steeped in science. What started out as a failed television series gained new life in syndication, then in the movies, as resurrected television series, with three spinoffs, and more movies. How many movies? Would you believe 11? Yes, and again, if you want to know what they are:

Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979)
Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan
(1982)
Star Trek III: The Search For Spock
(1984)
Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home
(1986)
Star Trek V: The Final Frontier
(1989)
Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country
(1991)
Star Trek: Generations
(1994)
Star Trek: First Contact
(1996)
Star Trek: Insurrection
(1998)
Star Trek: Nemesis
(2002)
Star Trek
(2009) This is the reboot/prequel directed by J.J. Abrams.

(As Star Wars goes, so does Star Trek.)

What keeps people coming back for Star Trek? For all its science, Star Trek is a message of hope. In the Star Trek universe, the people of Earth got their act together, made peace with each other and endeavor to help others to do the same. Yeah, the Enterprise is armed, but you have to remember that the Federation has its enemies and a starship has to have the ability to defend itself.

Toy Story
The movie that put Pixar on the map and changed the face of animation. The story of the secret life of Andy’s toys won the hearts of moviegoers made Steve Jobs, John Lasseter and others at Pixar lots of money. It also lead to other Pixar films such as Finding Nemo, Cars, Monsters—just to name a few. There were three Toy Story films that featured the voices of Tom Hanks, Tim Allen and Don Rickles. Each film was a critical and commercial success and collectively they made over $883 million in the U.S., alone. Not bad for toys that keep getting misplaced and lost. Thankfully, the folks at Pixar have giving the toys a rest and it looks like there won’t be anymore Toy Story films made. Yippee. Someone at a studio knows when to stop. Anyway, the movies are:

Toy Story 1995
Toy Story 2
1999
Toy Story 3
2010

Wait a minute! You must be saying now. There are more successful movie franchisees that just the ones mentioned here. Well, of course there are. What do you think?  That I’m stupid or something? (Don’t answer that.) Anyway, a successful movie franchise keeps the audience wanting more. So, in that spirit, I’ll ask you to stay tuned for another of my thrilling blog entries where I will dazzle you, the reader, with tales of successful movie franchisees.

Okay, so my blog entries aren’t thrilling, but they are good reads.

Sources:

http://www.boxofficemojo.com/alltime/world/

http://www.klast.net/bond/filmlist.html

http://www.answerbag.com/q_view/50418

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

http://blastr.com/2009/05/the-10-star-trek-movies-s.php

http://www.movieweb.com/news/box-office-beat-down-harry-potter-and-the-deathly-hallows-part-2-earns-168-5-million

Animated Movies—They’re Not Just for Kids Anymore

July 21, 2010

There were three animated movies released during the 2010 summer movie season. In case you’ve been hiding under a rock, they are:

Toy Story 3
Shrek: The Final Chapter
Despicable Me

Usually during the blockbuster movie season (summer or winter/holiday season), one, maybe two animated films are released. What has lead to so many animated films being released at one time?  Here are my theories on the subject:

  1. It’s the economy.  The Dow is more down than up and unemployment is still high. In a situation like this, escapist cinema does well at the box office and what can be more escapist than an animated film. The films are visually appealing and the voices are stars like Steve Carrell, Tom Hanks, Mike Myers, Cameron Diaz who know how to bring a character to life.
  2. It’s a reminder of childhood. If you are of a certain age, you can remember being camped out in front of the television set on Saturday mornings watching such cartoons as Bugs Bunny, Fat Albert, Superfriends and let’s not forget The Smurfs. While the Saturday morning cartoons aren’t as visually appealing as their feature length cousins, they were fun to watch. Bugs Bunny got away from Elmer Fudd, the Superfriends got the bad guys, Fat Albert and his friends had fun and learned a lesson, and the Smurfs outsmarted Gargamel everytime. Bravo cartoon characters, you entertained me and a million other kids.
  3. It’s art. Don’t look at me like that. I’m serious. From Snow White to the current crop of computer generated animated films, it takes a good eye and great storytelling skill to create an animated film that both kids and adults will enjoy. Also, creating art means taking a risk. Speaking of Snow White, Walt Disney took a huge gamble in making that film in 1937. Before Snow White was released, no one thought people would watch an animated feature for more than a few minutes. Well, Disney proved the naysayers wrong and showed than an animated film can be as engrossing and artistic as a feature film. Whatever you think of the Disney studios now, would there be a Toy Story, Shrek or even Despicable Me in 2010 without Walt talking that chance in 1937?

Something to think about as you go to see the latest animated film.

Source: http://disney.go.com/characters/?channel=154327#/characters/articles/snowwhiteturns70/