by D.W. Lundberg

Saturday, January 16, 2016


Method acting is a serious craft. It requires you to commit completely to a role, to surrender to it, to take on every quality and mannerism of the character you're playing - in essence, you "become" the character, inside and out. Developed by Konstantin Stanislavski during the years 1911-1916, then later cultivated by "star" practitioners such as Stella Adler and Lee Strasberg, "The Method," as it's called, emphasizes the importance of emotional truth, conveyed internally and externally by the actor. Yet the demands of immersing yourself that deeply into the mind of a character can also have its negative effects, often to the detriment of your own health or sanity. Famous examples of actors taking their "Method" to the extreme include Marlon Brando, who confined himself to a hospital bed for an entire month to prepare for his role as a paraplegic in The Men (1950); Robert De Niro, who gained a whopping 64 pounds to play aging boxer Jake LaMotta in Raging Bull (1980); and Daniel Day-Lewis, who never moved from his wheelchair during the entire six-week shoot for My Left Foot (1989), learned how to track and kill his own food for The Last Of The Mohicans (1992), and caught a slight case of pneumonia while shooting Gangs Of New York (2002) because he refused to wear clothes that were untrue to the period.

The authenticity of these performances aside, there are limits, of course, to how much an actor is willing to sacrifice for his art. To play a character who returns from the dead, for example, it's probably unnecessary for anyone to die and be resuscitated in order to achieve the "emotional truth" of the moment (that's what the Internet was invented for, people!). The same goes for trying to relive a past sexual or childhood trauma, or resorting to actual drug use for a part, which any medical processional will tell you, is likely to cause more psychological and physical damage than it's probably worth. (I am reminded of a scene from 1976's Marathon Man, in which Dustin Hoffman kept himself awake for three days straight to accurately portray his character's disorientation and terror. When co-star Laurence Olivier heard this, he told Hoffman, "Why don't you just try acting?")

Thursday, December 10, 2015


Disney/Pixar's Inside Out tells the story of 11- year-old Riley Andersen, uprooted from her home in Minnesota and carted off to San Francisco, where her father just landed a new job. On the cusp of adolescence, Riley is completely unprepared for the mental and emotional turmoil the move is about to cause herself and her family; her parents, likewise, can't understand why their little girl, once so bright and open and the light of their lives, suddenly turns so irritable and distant. Ultimately, Riley is able to reconcile her feelings and make up with Mom and Dad (SPOILER), and they live in perfect harmony together forever after. All this, of course, is just the springboard for the really interesting stuff, in which we learn that Riley's emotions are sentient beings operating a giant control room inside her head. There's Joy, green-yellow and eternally optimistic; Anger, who's always on the verge of blowing his red brick top; Fear, a bug-eyed purple nebbish; Disgust, who can barely hide the look of disdain on her face; and Sadness, mopey and morose and blue. So far, Joy has been Riley's dominant personality trait, until circumstances force Sadness to challenge that position, and when both Joy and Sadness are ejected from headquarters and plunged deeper into the recesses of Riley's brain, it's up to Anger, Fear, and Disgust to keep up appearances - with often disastrous results.

Suffice it to say Inside Out is unlike anything Pixar has ever attempted before - eye-popping and funny and heartfelt, yes, but clearly conceived as a metaphor for the way our emotions sometimes get the better of us... and how our children learn to cope with those emotions during their formative years, much to the chagrin of their parents. It's an idea rife with dramatic possibilities, which director Pete Docter (Up) and co-screenwriters Meg LeFauve and Josh Cooley are consistently able to mine for comedy and visual gold. (I haven't even begun to describe Riley's "Personality Islands," or the color-coded translucent orbs in which her memories are "stored" and then carted off to Long Term Memory when she sleeps, or Bing Bong, or the stopovers in Imagination Land or - my personal favorite - Abstract Thought, where the characters are rendered as cubist shapes that would make Picasso proud.)

Friday, November 6, 2015


One of the most derided entries in the James Bond canon, Die Another Day opened in November of 2002 to coincide with 007's 40-year cinematic anniversary. It was Pierce Brosnan's fourth and final outing as the inimitable superspy, and the first Bond film to embrace the use of CGI for its action scenes (which was a major source of said derision). Yet despite the misgivings of critics and Bond fans alike, Die Another Day managed to gross $432 million worldwide - the highest-grossing franchise entry up to that point (unadjusted for inflation). The plot, for the uninitiated, centers around a failed mission in North Korea during which Bond is captured and held prisoner for 14 months. Once released, Bond finds he's been disavowed by MI6 and that his 00 status has been rescinded... but never one to shrink from a challenge (ahem), decides to go "rogue" in order to clear his name and discover the identity of the agent who betrayed him. Along the way, Bond makes friends with a bikini-clad sidekick, engages his enemy in a “winner takes all” sporting match, drives around in his patented Aston Martin with built-in patented ejector seat, hangs off cliffs, has his cover blown by facial recognition software, and disarms a solar-powered superweapon (not in that order).

If any of that sounds at all familiar to you, congratulations: you've seen enough James Bond in your lifetime to know that Die Another Day cribs from the best (and some of the not-so-best) of them. (And those are: Bond going rogue = Licence To Kill; betrayed by fellow agent = GoldenEye; bikini sidekick = Dr. No; sporting match + ejector seat = Goldfinger; cliff-hanging = For Your Eyes Only; facial recognition = A View To A Kill; solar superweapon = The Man With The Golden Gun.) But is this a case of pure laziness on the filmmakers' part, or simply par for the course at this point? Like any good soup or stew, we expect our Bond films to be stuffed with all the familiar ingredients - a sprinkle of outlandish gadgetry here, a dollop of double entendres there, three cups of vehicular mayhem over there. And while I admit having a soft spot for the film itself (I like the devil-may-care, adrenaline-pumping pace of the thing, despite the ridiculousness of the plot), I'll also be the first to admit that Die Another Day, more than The World Is Not Enough before it, plays more like a Greatest Hits assemblage of previous Bond adventures than an actual movie.

The franchise's 40th Anniversary might have more to do with this than we initially suspected. The makers of Die Another Day had two simple requirements: one, make the movie accessible to The Fast And The Furious set, and two, include enough homages to Bond's cinema past while trying to appeal to the The Fast And The Furious set. As such, 007's 20th big-screen endeavor is not only loaded with crash-zooms and extreme sports sequences but also references to every (official) Bond film ever made. Some of these are subtle - others, not so much. Then again, James Bond has never been one for subtlety.

Friday, October 30, 2015


Well, it's Halloween again, folks! That time when we fire up our cauldrons and our jack-o'-lanterns, and line the grocery stores for our Kit Kats and costumes for the kiddos, all in anticipation of everyone's second favorite holiday of the year (or, as we like to call it in the Lundberg home, The Night We Stock Up On Enough Stinking Candy To Last Us Through Easter At Least). It is also the time for movies about ghouls, ghosts, and goblins to flood our cinematic consciousness, and in keeping with tradition here at FTWW, I wanted to do something fun for you guys as a countdown to the big night.

This year, though, I wanted to make it a bit more personal, so instead of offering up a generic list of Horror titles guaranteed to worm their way into everyone's torture chamber at night, I've decided to share 31 (31 - get it?) of the biggest frights of my entire movie-going experience - specific moments from specific films, in order of intensity, which managed to scare the ever-living bejeebus out of me since I first fell in love with movies as a kid.

Monday, August 31, 2015


If I pride myself on anything here at FTWW, it's that I'm constantly trying to go against the grain of what every other blog on the 'net is doing. By this I mean no disrespect. There are plenty of quality ways to spend your time online, especially if you're as movie-hungry as I am. Movie trivia sites. Aggregate movie review sites. Sites which cover every aspect of the history of film, or scoops and spoilers about every upcoming film. Yet ever since the beginning, it's been my mission statement of sorts to fly in the face of all that - because why bother giving you something you can literally experience thousands of places elsewhere? And so from this idea came regular columns such as Franchise Face-Offs or MacGuffin With Egg or Details You Probably Never Noticed, the purpose of which is not to preach, or sound smarter than the average person off the street, but to open your eyes to the many ways we look at films - the little things that make them work (or not work), and maybe make us view them in a whole new light.

Which is why it's been just a tad disheartening while researching these AWSPOAFMs to find that many other sites have kinda/sorta covered the same idea already. Popsugar's done it. Den of Geek has done it. Heck, even has done it (their Alec Baldwin/Millard Fillmore connection is an especially nice touch). And in those moments when I've thought to myself, Why bother then?, I am reminded of the simple fact that there is no longer anything new under the sun, this idea of the Celebrity Lookalike included. It's something that's obviously crossed the minds of many a blogger or casual TV watcher/movie goer (even yourself) on many an occasion. That's part of the fun, isn't it? Because it isn't the subject itself you're tackling, but how you go about it that makes all the difference.