BLOGGER TEMPLATES AND TWITTER BACKGROUNDS
by D.W. Lundberg

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

... FOR "THE GREATEST ANTI-CHRISTMAS CHRISTMAS MOVIES OF ALL TIME"

Well, it's Christmas time again, folks! Which means exactly one thing here around the office: endless conversations about what does and does not constitute a Christmas movie. This debate began roughly three years ago, when someone (I think it was myself) singled out Die Hard as the Greatest Christmas Movie Of All Time. This choice, of course, was met with heaping doses of disapproval and disdain (including the immortal argument: "Die Hard doesn't count! Santa Claus isn't even in it!") and has only gotten worse over time.

To which I reply: Why shouldn't it count? What is it about Die Hard that screams NOT A CHRISTMAS MOVIE! anyway? I mean, Home Alone counts as a Christmas movie. Why discount Die Hard when Home Alone tells the same basic story - albeit with less gunplay and foot-slicing – yet still counts itself as a holiday staple in households across America? What makes Die Hard any different from your It's A Wonderful Lifes or your Miracle On 34th Streets, despite the fact that it centers around Mr. Bruce Willis killing the crap out of terrorists for two hours, rather than reindeer and festive good cheer?

Friday, December 19, 2014

... FOR "MOVIE COINCIDENCE OF THE DAY #8 ('THE SANTA CLAUSE 2' / 'BACK TO THE FUTURE PART III' EDITION)"

Ah, Christmas. That time of year when we gather close to the ones we love, preferably in front of a warm fireplace with a cup of fresh wassel in our hands. A time to bask in the warming glow of each other's company with the snow falling in thick blankets outside. A time of peace, joy, and understanding. And if you're Santa Claus in desperate need of finding a wife before your contractual obligation to do so expires on Christmas Eve, a time to come clean to the beautiful high school principal you've been wooing in hopes she'll return with you to the North Pole to live out the rest of her natural life.

Complicated? To say the least. In this scene from Disney's The Santa Clause 2 (2002), Scott Calvin (Tim Allen), shrunk down in size the closer he comes to his deadline, tries to convince the lovely Carol Newman (Elizabeth Mitchell) that he is, in fact, the most famous holiday mascot in the history of the world. Needless to say what happens does not exactly bode well for their relationship. Then again, the last time I tried convincing a girl that I was actually Santa Claus, she reacted in pretty much the same way:

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

... FOR "RANDOM UPDATES TO THE SITE"

When I first embarked on this blogging adventure in February of 2010, I'll admit I was a novice at it in more ways than one. Learning to let my freak flag fly, for one thing, figuring out how to stand toe to toe with (and sometimes head and shoulders above) the millions of other movie blogs out there, by offering up a different spin on the basics of filmcraft - technique, trivia, retrospectives, reviews - than you're probably used to. Or struggling to stay relevant, by paying respect to the films of the present (which, let's be honest, is all people really want to hear about) and also to the films of the past (which, let's face it, is where all modern motion pictures get their ideas). Also learning that you can't be everything to everyone all of the time; sure, people love their Comic Book Movies and their MacGuffin With Egg, but try blogging a quiz or two (or three, or eight), and readers will have nothing to do with it. (It took me too long, perhaps, to realize that once one person responds with the answers, it's pretty much pointless for everyone else.)

Still, the thing that's disappointed me the most is that I haven't been able to build up an audience to the degree I'd initially hoped for. I have my core readership, of course, to whom I'm eternally grateful. Ultimately, though, the responsibility of bringing traffic to the site rests entirely on me, and only me, and I've been slow in making that happen. Never one to toot my own horn, I was uncomfortable at first posting updates to Facebook, or anywhere else for that matter, expecting, I guess, to succeed on the strength of my words alone. But it takes a certain amount of shameless self-promotion to make it anywhere in this world, a fact I've only started warming up to, and now that I've started posting to Twitter and Medium.com, we'll see what that does for the site. (Special thanks to Ether Ling for crafting a marketing plan to help bolster the blog.)

Thursday, November 13, 2014

... FOR "MOVIE COINCIDENCE OF THE DAY #7" (OR, "THAT TIME 'PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN' TOTALLY RIPPED OFF AN OLD BUGS BUNNY CARTOON")

So I was able to enjoy some much-needed rest and relaxation last month, while on vacation with the in-laws at Disneyland, and during one particularly lackadaisical morning in our hotel room, managed to catch the tail end of a Looney Tunes marathon on Cartoon Network. That sounds a bit like sacrilege, I know (Warner Bros created its Looney Tunes/Merrie Melodies cartoon shorts to compete with Disney's Silly Symphonies during the 1930s), but my love for Bugs, Daffy and the rest apparently knows no bounds, and it's always good to catch up with them on occasion. Even my 12-year-old nephew seemed to get a kick out of them, laughing along with the jokes and staying one step ahead of the characters, which was especially good for my ego.

One cartoon on the rotation, 1954's Captain Hareblower, has always been a personal favorite. It stars Yosemite Sam as a high-seas pirate who tries (unsuccessfully) to commandeer a vessel piloted by that wascally wabbit himself, Mr. Bugs Bunny. (Says Bugs, after Pirate Sam's first declaration of war, "Now, he should know better than that!") Naturally, hilarious hi-jinks ensue, involving a shark, a match, an axe, close-range cannon fire, and a bomb that somehow stays lit underwater - not necessarily in that order. Of course, only Bugs escapes with his dignity intact. Here it is in its entirety, courtesy of YouTube:

Friday, October 31, 2014

... IN DEFENSE OF "HORROR MOVIES"

Why do we love Horror movies? What is it about them we find so consistently fascinating? Is it the childlike thrill of the dark? A secret love for things that jump out and go "Boo!"? Or is it something deeper - a catharsis, say, a way of facing our fears head on, only to emerge, two hours later with a silly grin on our faces, into the light? The fact is, most of us like to be scared on one level or another. It's the adrenaline you feel, that thumping in your chest when you're forced to step outside your comfort zone. This is true whether you're jumping from a plane, climbing a rock face, or riding a roller coaster - you get addicted to it, like a drug. Horror films affect us in much the same way.

Even so, Horror movies tend to illicit different reactions from the people watching them. It's hard to feel threatened by Dracula, for instance, if you don't find vampires particularly frightful or menacing. The shark scenes in Jaws may turn your basic aquaphobe to a quivering mess on the floor, but the effect will be decidedly different for anyone who's spent a great deal of time out on the ocean. From the silent Expressionist films of the 20s (The Cabinet Of Dr. Caligari, Nosferatu) to Universal's classic monsters of the 30s and 40s (Frankenstein, The Wolf Man) to the slasher flicks of the 70s and 80s (The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, Halloween and their countless clones) and finally to the J-Horror and "torture porn" films of the Noughties (Ju-On: The Grudge, Hostel), the genre has been fractured and splintered into so many subcategories that there's practically something for everyone. The question becomes: What kind of Horror fiend are you?

Monday, October 20, 2014

... FOR "COINCIDENCES AND CROSSOVERS" (OR, "THAT TIME YOUR FAVORITE CHARACTER FROM SOME OTHER MOVIE ALSO POPPED UP IN...")

Our previous post on Disney's Maleficent leaned a little on the heavy side, so today I thought we'd try something lighter and more trivia-centric...

Watching Collateral the other night, I was struck again by the simplicity of its script, the amazing clarity of its high-def digital photography, the way Michael Mann is able to wring supple, nuanced performances from his two stars, Tom Cruise and Jamie Foxx, and... holy crap, is that Jason "Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels" Statham switching briefcases with Tom Cruise at the beginning of the movie? Or did my eyes just deceive me? The man may only show his face for about 15-20 seconds or so, but... yep, a quick scan of IMDb shows that Statham is indeed in the movie (credited only as "Airport Man"). My interest piqued, I check IMDb again, and see that Statham's Collateral cameo comes only one year after The Italian Job (2003) and two years after The Transporter (2002). So he'd already made a name for himself by the time 2004 rolled around - why such a bit part in an otherwise major motion picture? Was it a favor to the director? A favor to Cruise? A way of passing the baton from one action hero to another?

Monday, September 29, 2014

... FOR "DISNEY'S 'MALEFICENT' AND THE FARCE OF THE FEMINIST FAIRY TALE"

"In any event, we know what's really going on in the scene.... It's a symbolic assault with sexual overtones, specifically an attack that occurs after a woman has passed out. Maleficent doesn't just lose her wings; they're stripped from her, against her will."
  — Matt Zoller Seitz, rogerebert.com

"[A]fter the brutal attack, Maleficent quickly retools itself, heading into a whirlwind of tones while ignoring the darker implications of its opening story. In a brisk 97 minutes, decades of narrative are distilled into boilerplate genre elements: The chills of a rape revenge fantasy, the mirth of slapstick, and the adrenaline of action."
  — Monika Bartyzel, Girls On Film

"[W]elcome to Walt Disney's I Spit On Your Grave."
  — Drew McWeeny, HitFix.com


So intoned the critics of Disney's Maleficent, which (so far) has managed to gross over $756 million since opening May 30th. Many reviews, as a matter of fact, touched on this rape-as-metaphor idea in some form or another, to the dismay of many moviegoers/overprotective parents who outright refused to believe that the Mouse House would sneak such subversively sinister material into one of their patented family entertainments. Never mind that Angelina Jolie herself admitted as much during interviews ("The core of [the movie] is abuse, and how the abused have a choice of abusing others or overcoming and remaining loving, open people," she told the BBC on June 10). The cold hard truth is that, from Hans Christian Anderson to Charles Perrault to the Brothers Grimm, even our fondest fairy tales have always been metaphors for something. What matters is how those metaphors are presented to the eyes and ears of anyone old enough to comprehend them.

Monday, September 8, 2014

... FOR "MOVIE COINCIDENCE/MARKETING PLOY OF THE DAY (LIAM NEESON EDITION)"

I may be jumping the gun a bit, since the film doesn't officially open until September 19th, but there's just something about Liam Neeson's latest paranoid thriller, A Walk Among The Tombstones, that seems awfully familiar. Check out one if the earlier ads for the movie, still making the rounds on TV, and you'll see what mean:


Did you catch it? True, the plot (adapted from the novel by Robert Block) could be taken from any number of films, about an "off the books" detective hired to find the missing wife of some affluent rich guy in the city. And the action beats are practically recycled from Neeson's recent string of adrenaline-pumping, career-redefining hits. More specifically, though, I'm talking about 0:20 through 0:26, which should be enough to drive Taken fans into an absolute frenzy.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

... FOR "DETAILS YOU PROBABLY NEVER NOTICED IN POPULAR FILMS BEFORE ('GHOSTBUSTERS' EDITION)"

In celebration of last weekend's 30th-anniversary re-release of Ghostbusters (not, thankfully, in 3D), we take a deeper dive into one of the movie's biggest and most memorable gags...

The Stay Puft Marshmallow Man. You know the name. You know the face. You know the portly, pillowy body. From the moment he stepped onscreen, walking out onto that New York City street to battle the 'busters, Mr. Stay Puft became an instant part of our pop culture lexicon, like a cross between the Pillsbury Dough Boy and the Michelin Tire Man. The genius of his conception, though, is how it perfectly captured the spirit of the movie in one glorious iconic image - the promise of the supernatural mixed with gut-busting belly laughs brought to life by larger-than-life special effects. (Even today, three decades later, I can still hear the peals of laughter rippling through the theater when the audience first caught a glimpse of him.)

Sunday, August 17, 2014

... FOR "MACGUFFIN WITH EGG (PART 4 - 'RONIN' EDITION)"

Been a while. Shall we recap? A MacGuffin, lest we forget, is any object or doodad in a story or film that every character wants desperately to get their hands on. It hardly matters what said object is; all we need to know is that everyone wants it, and will do whatever it takes to get it, often at the expense of each other's lives. Done right, the MacGuffin will reveal important truths about the characters (i.e., just how much is this person willing to sacrifice in order to accomplish his/her goals?). Done wrong, or explain it too much, and, well, who cares?

To wit: In Paramount's Mission: Impossible series, Tom Cruise and his Impossible Mission Force are sent to retrieve any number of mysterious artifacts, from a computer file to a vial full of hazardous material, before bad guys can sell it for profit or terror. Characters resolve their differences with bullets or by beating each other to a bloody pulp. In Jaws, the MacGuffin is the shark - the existence of which will test the limits of the three men who set out to stop it. And in Hitchcock's Notorious, uranium stored in champagne bottles forces a spy (Cary Grant) to put the woman he loves (Ingrid Bergman) in harm's way.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

... FOR "UNSUNG HEROES: STELLAN SKARSGÅRD"

A(nother) new feature here at FTWW, in which we celebrate the unsung heroes of the cinema: those hard-working, multi-faceted professionals who've dipped their toes into just about every motion picture ever made - though you'd be hard-pressed to remember who they are or where you'd seen them before. In their own way, their talents are every bit as recognizable as Robert De Niro's or Meryl Streep's - even if their faces are not. With this series, hopefully, we aim to change all that.


Born June 13, 1951, in Gothenburg, Sweden, Stellan Skarsgård didn't initially plan on becoming an actor (he says he wanted to be a diplomat), yet he lucked into it anyway, when he was cast as the title character in the TV series Bomvbi Bitt och jag (Bombi Bitt & I, 1968) at 16 years old. The role catapulted him to the status of a rock star in his native country, and in 1972, Skarsgård joined The Royal Dramatic Theatre Company in Stockholm, where he worked regularly on stage and in film for directors such as Alf Sjberg and Ingmar Bergman. It wasn't until 1985, however, that he gained international acclaim, playing a mentally-disturbed immigrant farmhand in the American Playhouse episode Noon Wine. He won the Guldbagge and Silver Berlin Bear awards for his efforts. Naturally, it wasn't long before Hollywood came calling.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

... FOR "DETAILS YOU PROBABLY NEVER NOTICED IN POPULAR FILMS BEFORE ('DIE HARD' EDITION)"

A continuation on a theme, again, as we take a closer look at Die Hard (1988). Unquestionably one of the most influential action films of the 80s (along with Raiders Of The Lost Ark and John Woo's The Killer), John McTiernan's game-changing box office blockbuster snuck up on audiences worldwide, catapulting Bruce Willis into superstardom and launching its own brand of wannabes and knockoffs ("Die Hard... on a boat!" "Die Hard... on a plane!" "Die Hard... in a hockey arena!" ). To judge the film by its countless clones and imitators, though, is to diminish its special contributions to the genre.

Aside from the obvious, which we'll cover in a future Franchise Face-Off (or, if you prefer, you can read Matt Zoller Seitz's in-depth appreciation of its 25th anniversary here), Die Hard is a masterpiece of spatial composition and the characters' relation to the camera frame. The production design by Jackson DeGovia, for example, or McTiernan's staging of certain shots, which constantly arranges actors and objects in trianglular formations:

Monday, July 14, 2014

... FOR "DIRECTOR'S TRADEMARKS: JOHN McTIERNAN AND THE AXIAL CUT"

Last week's post took a lot out of me. I've said it before, but it takes a tremendous amount of brain power to focus all my extra energy and attention on one particular type of film or filmmaker these days, especially with the stresses of work (two jobs!) and family (four kids!) taking precedence so much of the time, and picking apart the films of M. Night Shyamalan was no exception. What it did, however, was get me thinking of other directors' most recognizable trademarks - those nuances or specific camera techniques repeated again and again throughout their cinematic oeuvres. Whether big (Spielberg's Looking Wide-Eyed With Wonder At Some Off-Screen Presence shots) or small (Hitchcock's cameos), directors do love sticking their personal stamp on things. If they didn't, how else would we know who directed what?

Once a staple of late-'80s/early-'90s action cinema, John McTiernan has long since disappeared from the spotlight, mostly due to his nasty run-in with the federal government (well, that and Rollerball [2002]). For a while, though, he was widely considered king, with Predator (1987), Die Hard (1988) and The Hunt For Red October (1990) entrenching themselves forever into the public consciousness. To this day, critics and film scholars continue to sing McTiernan's praises, in particular David Bordwell, who speaks on his blog about the director's penchant for "unfussy following shots" and "tightly-woven classicism." And while it's true that McTiernan's style may seem positively old-fashioned compared to today's smash-and-grab editing techniques, like many filmmakers, he wasn't above cribbing from himself on a regular basis.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

... IN DEFENSE OF "THE FILMS OF M. NIGHT SHYAMALAN"

Writing the post on plagiarism was fun, not just because it distracted me from the business of Disney or comic books or strange coincidences between films, but because it reminded me of something I hadn't thought about in quite some time: the films of M. Night Shyamalan. No doubt you recognize the name; there was a time not long ago, in fact, when audiences could barely bring themselves to think about anyone else. From The Sixth Sense (1999) to Unbreakable (2000) to Signs (2002) and, yes, even The Village (2004), the man could do no wrong, at least in the eyes of box office pundits. Then came the accusations of ripping off other people's work, the big-screen debacle that was Lady In The Water (2006), and worse, The Happening (2008), and suddenly, the one-time wunderkind was reduced to a fake and a fraud, a Hollywood hack whose luck - not to mention his talent - had definitely run out. (And don't get me started on After Earth or The Last Airbender, big-budget studio extravaganzas which clearly showed Shyamalan out of his element.)

Still, for a while there, Shyamalan was rightly regarded as one of the defining voices of the 90s/early Noughties. Like Tarantino, Fincher, Anderson (Wes or P.T.) or Jonze, you went to see a Shyamalan movie to experience the shock of the new, for the mood he created, and for the many ways he toyed with the language of film. Everyone remembers the twist to The Sixth Sense (and to a lesser extent, Unbreakable and The Village), yet there is so much more to his earlier films than initially meets the eye. His long, languishing camera takes, for one - as opposed to the staccato style of editing so common to the contemporaries of his day (here's looking at you, Michael Bay). Or the way he used specific colors to key us in on important plot points. By the time he was 32, people were calling him "the next Spielberg," or, better still, "the next Hitchcock." With praise like that, it's no wonder all the acclaim and attention seemed to go to his head.

Friday, June 13, 2014

... FOR "MOVIE COINCIDENCE OF THE DAY #5"

In which we take a look at a series of odd movie coincidences - scenes, jokes, dialogue, even specific camera shots shared between two seemingly unrelated films. Anyone who's sat through a particular scene in a movie and thought, "Gee, haven't I seen someone do this somewhere before?" will know exactly what I'm talking about.

A Historical Drama and a Sci-Fi Action parable which end with strikingly similar closeups of the same actor's face. Two Horror film sequences seemingly inspired by Fred Astaire. And a gag about urination, used first in a spoof on 70s cop shows and then again during a Comedy about baseball. You look at these films and you have to wonder: Are these screenwriters purposely cribbing from each other, hoping no one will notice? Or are they paying deliberate homage to previous films, hoping overly attentive audiences will? Or is it, in fact, pure coincidence, plain and simple, since there is technically nothing new under the sun?

Friday, June 6, 2014

... FOR "A TALE OF TWO SPIDER-MAN(S)"

And again I find myself facing a conundrum: How, exactly, do I express my ardor and affection for one of the world's greatest comic book characters within the confines of a single blog post? Answer: I don't. As I've mentioned elsewhere on this site, simply talking about film, writing about it, isn't enough to do it justice. For what are motion pictures if not a purely visual medium? That's especially true of Comic Book Movies, which, like their source material, are meant to be experienced visually. Where's the fun, for example, in describing a scene from Sam Raimi's Spider-Man - in which all the characters show up for Thanksgiving dinner wearing each other's colors - when I can simply show it to you instead?

It may seem hard to believe, but Raimi's original Spider-Man turned 12 years old just this month. Harder still when you realize his entire Spider-Man trilogy lasted only five years, from 2002-2007. Together, they've grossed over $2.4 billion at the box office worldwide. They undoubtedly did their part to shape the current Comic Book Movie climate as we know it. And yet, since the 2012 reboot, some of Raimi's choices have been called into question, in particular his decision to skimp on the grittier, more psychological aspects of the character.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

... FOR "FRANCHISE FACE-OFFS (PART 16 - 'SPIDER-MAN' EDITION)"

The fun of the Spider-Man comics has always been that Peter Parker is intrinsically One of Us. We just may be too modest to admit it. We all feel the awkwardness of our teenage years, we all dream of greater power and responsibility, we all yearn for the courage and the conviction to swoop in and save the day. Swinging through the spires and the skyscrapers of New York City, Peter's world feels grounded in the everyday (well, as "everyday" as a kid in a red-and-blue leotard fighting crime, anyway), and his quips and his wisecracks give him the edge over his enemies, not only stronger and faster but smarter and wittier than they are too. With skills like that, who wouldn't want to be Spider-Man?

Despite his enormous popularity, however, the concept for Stan Lee and Steve Ditko's iconic creation almost didn't make it off the ground. When pitching his initial ideas for the character, Lee recalls that his publisher, Martin Goodman, asked, "Don't you understand what a hero is?" Goodman felt that the idea of a teen-aged superhero - especially a high school nerd who was unpopular with the ladies - wouldn't appeal to readers, since most teens in comic books (think "Bucky" Barnes or Dick Grayson) served only as sidekicks to more experienced crimefighters. Little did he realize that audiences were clamoring for a character they could call their own; unlike Superman, say, with his godlike powers and chiseled physique, or Batman, with his unlimited gadgets and millions of dollars at his disposal, Peter Parker struggled with more conventional problems, like passing his classes or trying to hold down a job. And comic book fans fell immediately in love with him. Spider-Man debuted in Amazing Fantasy #15 in June 1962 and sold in record numbers (in 2011, a near- mint edition of this issue sold for $1.1 million to a private collector). He has since become Marvel's flagship character and company mascot, appearing in multiple comic titles, cartoons, radio plays, movies, books, video games, even a Broadway musical (with music by U2's Bono and The Edge).


Saturday, April 19, 2014

... FOR "DETAILS YOU PROBABLY NEVER NOTICED IN POPULAR FILMS BEFORE ('SPIDER-MAN' EDITION)"

In which we take a look at the movies of yesteryear and bring some of their more subtle, less- noticeable idiosyncrasies to the fore. Do some of your favorite films exist in the memory purely as entertainment and nothing more? Well, look again...

The first thing you notice about comic books is that they're color coded. Sure, it's the characters and the storylines that keep you coming back month after month, issue after issue, but it's the bright, shiny colors that catch your attention first. In this regard, the colorists' job is just as important as the penciler's, or the script writer's. Think about it: without Superman's red-and-blue getup or the Hulk's green florescent skin, would you have given them a second glance?

Monday, April 14, 2014

... FOR "EXCUSES, EXCUSES" (A BOOK REVIEW OF "THE OFFSPRING," BY R.J. CRADDOCK)


As someone who's tried his hand at writing a novel or two, I can tell you this: it's no easy feat. I barely have the patience (or the brain power) at this point to hammer out a couple nonsensical paragraphs for the blog, let alone 300-500 pages worth. More than that, being able to keep a plot rolling for that long, or characters worth the trouble, is a task so Herculean I can scarcely understand how authors like Stephen King or James Patterson or (heaven forbid) Stephenie Meyer are able to do so on a regular basis. It takes tremendous talent and effort to do what these people do, yet ultimately what binds us together boils down to one simple thing: our obsession with the written word.

Born in Oaka Tamuning, Guam (where her father worked as an art teacher), Ruth "R.J" Craddock has every excuse never to attempt the Next Great American Novel - marriage, kids, housework (and all the exhaustion that entails), not enough hours in the day, you name it. Yet she also suffers from a disability only 17% of the population can claim to share: dyslexia, diagnosed at a very young age. Determined to never let it get the best of her, or define her in any way, Ruth was able to maintain a 4.0 GPA by her sophomore year in high school, and at 29, published her first novel, The Forsaken, Book One in her proposed Children Of Cain series. Now just a year later comes its sequel, The Offspring, a sure sign that her dyslexia has no chance of holding her back. (She joins a select group of dyslexic authors throughout history, including Agatha Christie, Hans Christian Anderson and William Butler Yeats.)

Friday, March 14, 2014

... FOR "DETAILS YOU PROBABLY NEVER NOTICED IN POPULAR FILMS BEFORE ('TERMINATOR 2' EDITION)"

In which we take a look at the movies of yesteryear and bring some of their more subtle, less- noticeable idiosyncrasies to the fore. Do some of your favorite films exist in the memory purely as entertainment and nothing more? Well, look again...

A blockbuster to end all blockbusters, James Cameron's Terminator 2: Judgment Day opened in the summer of 1991 and blew away all its competition, earning $519.8 million worldwide (or roughly $888 million when adjusted for inflation). Cameron and his cinematographer, Adam Greenberg, though, had more up their sleeve than state-of-the-art special effects or rock-'em-sock-'em heavy metal action; they infused the movie with a slick, subtle color scheme that mimics the emotions of the characters.

Friday, March 7, 2014

... FOR "MOVIE COINCIDENCE OF THE DAY #4"

In which we take a look at a series of odd movie coincidences - scenes, jokes, dialogue, even specific camera shots shared between two seemingly unrelated films. Anyone who's sat through a particular scene in a movie and thought, "Gee, haven't I seen someone do this somewhere before?" will know exactly what I'm talking about.


The other week, I posted an MCOD connecting a joke in A League Of Their Own (1992) with an earlier one, from The Naked Gun (1988). Actually, that wasn't entirely fair: Though the setup is basically the same - man urinates, long and loudly, for a captive audience, seems to stop... then picks up again, just as long and as loud as before - the context is not, so I feel the need to backtrack a bit. In A League, you see, the joke is all about character: by the time Jimmy Dugan (Tom Hanks) is introduced to his fellow Peaches, he's already been established as a louse and a loser, so his little stint at the latrine (or was that a sink?), at least, makes sense from a certain point of view. In The Naked Gun, it's less about character than out-and-out silliness, for which its creators - a comedy team known as ZAZ, for David Zucker, Jim Abrahams and Jerry Zucker - had pretty much cornered the market.

Friday, February 28, 2014

... FOR "HOLLYWOOD'S BIGGEST NIGHT" (aka "OSCARS 2014") - UPDATED!

UPDATED: Well, that's it. Another Oscar show, another 365 days at the movies come and gone. While last night's telecast had its surprises (12 Years A Slave for Best Picture? Did anyone but the politically correct-minded see that one coming?) as well as its foregone conclusions (Frozen for Best Animated Feature and Best Song, plus Alfonso Cuarón nabbing Best Director honors for Gravity), Oscar 2014 will likely go down as the most social media-centric ceremony in the history of ever, with host Ellen DeGeneres' star-studded "selfie" breaking records as Twitter's most retweeted photo of all time(My favorites: Kevin Spacey and resident sour-puss Angelina Jolie joining in on the fun, or Brad Pitt and Benedict Cumberbatch photobombing Best Actor hopeful Chiwetel Ejiofor mere seconds later.)

From what I watched, the show was every bit as random and rambling as it has been in previous years, with pompous tributes (how, exactly, did The Wizard Of Oz earn a special remembrance for its 75th anniversary, while other classics like Gone With The Wind and Stagecoach did not?) and pointless attempts at grandiosity dominating the night (dedicating the ceremony to "heroes" in film, animated and otherwise, only to show endless clip montages populated mostly by men? Dudes, your women must be so proud!). All this, plus John Travolta hilariously mispronouncing Idina Menzel's name during her otherwise top-notch rendition of "Let It Go"? Oh, the humanity!

Winners have been bolded (with an asterisk) at the end of this post. For anyone who stuck through to the end, what are your thoughts, reminisces, complaints? Did any acceptance speech or musical performance rub you the wrong way? What winner took you most by surprise/had you rolling your eyes? Is anyone else fully on board the McConaissance like I am? Please post your responses below!

 
Oscar, Oscar, what could you possibly be thinking? 

Each year, we're subjected to our share of cop-outs and controversies surrounding the Academy Awards. Often, these range from the obsessively petty (How did that person even get nominated?) to the borderline offensive (celebs who mistake their time at the podium as an opportunity for political grandstanding). Other times, Oscar seems to have an agenda all its own (the 69th Annual Academy Awards, for example, for which The English Patient took home the coveted prize for Best Picture, might have been dubbed The Year of The Independent Film; in 2004, Oscar was all about The Lord of The Rings: The Return Of The King, winning every award for which it was nominated; two years ago, I argued that the nominees for Best Picture at the 84th Academy Awards were steeped in nostalgia for times gone by).

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

... FOR "MOVIE COINCIDENCE OF THE DAY #3"

In which we take a look at a series of odd movie coincidences - scenes, jokes, dialogue, even specific camera shots shared between two seemingly unrelated films. Anyone who's sat through a particular scene in a movie and thought, "Gee, haven't I seen someone do this somewhere before?" will know exactly what I'm talking about.


My apologies for the (literal) bathroom humor. But this one's worth a leak look. Needless to say, the following clips are definitely PG-rated:

video

A League Of Their Own (Penny Marshall, 1992)


video

The Naked Gun (David Zucker, 1988)



__________


Interested in more Movie Coincidences of the Day? Click here for our introductory article. Then click here for Part 2.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

... FOR "SHIA LaBEOUF-ISMS" (OR, "HOW TO PLAGUARIZE OTHER PEOPLE'S WORK AND PAY THE PENALTY FOR IT") - UPDATED!

Actor/rabble rouser/fledgling filmmaker Shia LaBeouf got himself into a bit of hot water last month, when the former Transformers star was accused of plagiarizing someone else's work for HowardContour.com, his 12-minute short about the trials and tribulations of an Internet movie critic. Just to be clear: LaBeouf flat out stole the plot of Daniel Clowes's 2007 comic book Justin M. Damiano, including specific frames and entire lines of dialogue, and tried passing it off his own. (Clowes's name is conspicuously absent from the film itself, and never once during interviews did LaBeouf mention Justin M. Damiano as his source material.)

Saturday, January 4, 2014

... FOR "WALT DISNEY'S ANIMATED FIFTY (PART 50 - 'TANGLED' EDITION)"

Our continuing foray into Disney's fifty official Animated Classics. As always, don't hesitate to share your thoughts/memories/complaints in the comments section below. Links to previous entries are also included below.

Title: Tangled (2010; based on the fairy tale Rapunzel by the Brothers Grimm)

The Plot: A princess whose hair possesses magical healing powers is imprisoned in a forest tower; on the eve of her 18th birthday, she escapes and experiences life for the first time, with the help of a wayward thief.

The Songs: "Incantation Song," "When Will My Life Begin," "Mother Knows Best," "I've Got A Dream," "I See The Light," "Something That I Want" (performed by Grace Potter)