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Archive for November, 2011

Review: “Planes, Trains and Automobiles”

November 29, 2011 6 comments

Director: John Hughes
Produced by: John Hughes
Written by: John Hughes
Starring: Steve Martin, John Candy, Laila Robins
Music by: Ira Newborn
Year: 1987

After bringing the world four renowned teenage-centric films, John Hughes, director, producer, and writer, changed course and aimed for the adult crowd with this rare Thanksgiving holiday movie.

Uniting Saturday Night Live alum Steve Martin and SCTV‘s (a.k.a., Canadian SNL) John Candy, Planes, Trains and Automobiles has joined the ranks of The Breakfast Club and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off in becoming another of Hughes’ all time ’80s classics and has become such a staple of  the Thanksgiving holiday that I’m certain you’ve passed by it on some marathon airing on cable TV and possibly didn’t even know it! And if you didn’t know of it, then that’s a mild crime, as the film deserves that status. Read more…

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Thanksgiving Week Hiatus

November 22, 2011 2 comments

Hello everyone! Because I will have limited access to both time and internet this week, and because I’ll pretty much be on vacation, I am pretty much not going to be able to update very much until next week. However, I may make a few small updates here and there.

In the meantime, I recommend that you guys watch a little John Hughes film known as Planes, Trains and Automobiles. It’s a lovely family comedy starring Steve Martin and John Candy as two guys who keep crossing paths as they try to get home to their families on Thanksgiving. Heartwarming and touching, you’ll laugh, you’ll cry, and you’ll have a lot to talk to your kids about by the end about the importance of kindness. The scene at the counter with the woman on the phone is sure to stir you and touch you emotionally by Steve Martin’s performance.

… … Alright fine, so it’s not exactly family fare. But it is hilarious. I suppose you could watch Miracle on 34th Street for the millionth time, you bores, but you’ll be missing out!

The kids already sit at the kids table for dinner, so why can’t they have a kids TV too while the adults watch a more entertaining, actually-about-Thanksgiving movie? Your choice, I suppose. If you can tolerate language, you actually will find a surprisingly touching and hilarious film in the standard John Hughes form. I promise! And I wasn’t kidding about the performance in the counter scene. I know a lot of people are against swearing, but somehow this scene brings it up to an art form. Trust me, it’s much better in context!

Coincidentally, I found an English and German version of the scene in one video! It’s not Dutch, but you’ll have to pardon his French. Ha! Translate this language for the kids, Santa!

 

 

Anyway, Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! I’ll be seeing you next week, likely five pounds heavier.

Review: “The Departed”

November 20, 2011 Leave a comment
Director: Martin Scorsese
Produced by: Brad Pitt, Brad Grey, Graham King
Written by: William Monahan (screenplay), Felix Chong & Alan Mak (story)
Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon, Jack Nicholson, Mark Wahlberg, Martin Sheen, Ray Winstone, Vera Farmiga, Alec Baldwin, Anthony Anderson
Music by: Howard Shore
Remake of: 無間道 (Infernal Affairs, 2002)
Year: 2006

 

Can a film that tries to be a serious drama simultaneously be a popcorn film? I believe it can. The Departed certainly is. In fact, I was actually inspired to throw a bag in the microwave and toss in some Parmesan cheese for good measure while watching this remake of the Chinese gangster film, Infernal Affairs. Martin Scorsese, winning with this film what was somehow his first Oscar for Best Director, has crafted what is essentially an action film where all the action takes place in the flurry of words rather than bullets. Read more…

Spoilers: The New “Just Say No” Campaign

November 18, 2011 2 comments
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Click to see more Anti-Spoiler Campaign posters. Spoiler Alert: Possibly "offensive" language?

I know the world supposedly has a severe attention span problem, but seriously, why would you want to know the ending of something before you even bother diving in or before you’re even halfway through the movie?

Whenever I’m discussing a movie I’d like for someone to see, it’s almost inevitable that somebody is going to ask, in some shape or form or manner, “What happens at the end?” Why is that? Why would you want to know?

The movie, TV show, whatever you’re discussing, has been laid out for you already. If you don’t care enough about it, then fine, I get it. I reluctantly will stoop to spoiling it for you then, if you really don’t have an interest in seeing the film, though I’ll likely feel dirty doing it. But if you’ve already committed yourself to seeing it, even going as far as to sitting down and starting the movie, why would you then ask, “So why did that just happen?”

YOU WILL FIND OUT IF YOU JUST PAY ATTENTION.

When I go into the theatre or pull up a movie I have never seen, I want to know only one thing: the basic concept of the film. That’s it. That’s what informs me what a movie is about and whether it is worth my attention. Whether the film turns out good or bad, I have already decided to let the filmmakers tell me the story, not my friends, not my family, not someone on the Internet.

This goes along with my idea of art being a testimony. A film is more than just its plot — it is also the assemblage of its plot, the delivery of its plot, perspective of the plotters, etc. Context is everything. Consuming art from its intended context is how we get a full view, or at least begin to get a full view, of what the artist intended for us to take from it as an audience, and also what we as an audience actually do take from the film from our own perspective. Discussion of a plot before you know the outcome just ruins the experience of gaining that first impression from the artist themselves, rather than your friend’s rough summary of the experience. (On a related note, this is related to why it’s generally pretty rude to talk or make obnoxious noises during movies if someone hasn’t seen it yet, too.)

Even if you haven't seen this film, you probably know what happens in the end. Kinda sucks for you, doesn't it?

Once you have both seen the film, then by all means, discuss it and get someone else’s full perspective on it. That’s how we learn from art, and that’s how we get smarter, but we should always be mindful of the fact that there are others out there who have yet to be given the chance to experience some films, both awesome and bad, on a firsthand basis. And why would you want to rob them of that?

So I encourage you, if you spot someone about to spoil a movie for someone who hasn’t yet had a chance to experience it, stick up for the victim. Grab a sock and shove it in the spoiler’s mouth! And if the person you just stuck up for tells you they wanted to know the spoilers, give them a dirty look and say to them, “What’s wrong with you? You… you’re stupid, is what you are!” That’ll show ’em.

(Sidenote: Now I admit, I often do want to know whether the movie is good or bad, as well. I get the whole issue of having limited time, and I do not think reading a thoughtful review – one that is mindful of not discussing the plot in full detail, that is – is contrary to having a movie spoiled. We are limited in our time, and our time is often best served elsewhere. I also understand that my reviews are often filled with spoilers. I try to notify you of this when I can, and if I don’t, then I really do apologize. I tend to review older films, and so these reviews are often intended to be at least an attempt at going deeper into my opinions and thoughts on the film as a whole and encouraging discussion, rather than just telling you a plot summary and what my rating is, but this site is essentially intended to encourage the post-viewing discussion more than it is just a reporter of quality. … At least that is my intent!)

Sidequest: How to Make a Proper “The Legend of Zelda” Film

November 16, 2011 4 comments

This blog is about film, I know, but, right now, my biggest anticipation isn’t an upcoming film. No. Right now all I can think about is rekindling a love affair with an old flame: video games.

Before I was a film nut, like all kids from the 80’s onward, I was a video game nut. I loved video games so much, I wanted to make them!– up until the end of high school when I got a clue and realized, “Wait, I hate math. I don’t want to program this!” It also became immediately clear that video game development is a black hole for your personal life, too. I don’t think people realize how many man hours go into making modern blockbuster games these days like Modern Warfare 3. Read a few anonymous behind-the-scenes anecdotes on The Trenches (brought to you by the guys who make the video game webcomic,  Penny Arcade), and you’ll see what I mean!

I continued to play them, of course. But slowly obligations began to take over. College took over. And other obligations, like church. And I soon found myself out of time and, most of all, out of energy. Even so, I continue to keep up on most of the latest games and trends in the industry. I look on with envy at games like Batman: Arkham CityAssassins Creed, andUltimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 and wish I still had the drive to play video games like I used to. Alas, etc.

But I have a feeling that’s all going to change this coming Sunday. Why? Oh, it’s just a little game series known as…

Yes, I've named my adorable little kitty Zelda, too!

The Legend of Zelda is my all time favorite game series. I’ve owned every official game, and I wouldn’t exactly turn down even the unofficial Philips CD-i Zelda games if I were given the right price! I own versions of the games on other platforms just so I was able to play the games again on other platforms! I lust after this 25th Anniversary Nintendo 3DS that comes with Ocarina of Time 3D, despite the fact that I own the game on both Nintendo 64 and GameCube (…twice!).

You might be asking yourself, though, why am I writing an article about a video game on a movie blog? Well, while I know that it’s a longshot (Pun! Get it? If you played Zelda you would!), I almost feel that it’s inevitable that sometime in the future — some distant time in the future — someone out there will think “We can make that into a movie!” And you know what? I wouldn’t exactly mind.

That is, I wouldn’t mind seeing it adapted if it meant that the filmmakers were able to stick to a few guidelines and avoid the trap that so many other video game films have fallen prey to. And so I offer these rough suggestions as to what needs to be done to make a successful Zelda film. Read more…

Special Review: “Braveheart” – A Tale of Love and Conflict

November 12, 2011 7 comments
Director: Mel Gibson
Produced by: Mel Gibson, Alan Ladd, Jr., Bruce Davey, Stephen McEveety
Written by: Randall Wallace
Starring: Mel Gibson, Sophie Marceau, Patrick McGoohan, Catherine McCormack, Angus Macfadyen
Music by: James Horner
Year: 1995

 

Whenever I ask people what their favorite films are, undoubtedly one out of maybe five people has listed Braveheart in their list. That’s not a 100% scientific assessment, now, but you get my point. People really like this film!

The thing is, I’ve never been able to relate. It wasn’t that I didn’t like the film. It was just that… well, I had never seen it! Much like The Godfather and Casablanca, this was one of those all time classics that, despite being a massive film fan, I had somehow managed to not see.

Eventually, I did see The Godfather and its sequels, and I did see Casablanca, and both sets of films definitely lived up to their reputations (including The Godfather Part III being the most pointless sequel). But I continued to remain uninitiated into the clan of Braveheart fans, and I continued to be gawked at by its respective members as they questioned the validity of me as not just a film fan, but as a human being — “You mean, you have never seen Braveheart?” they all gasped! Read more…

10 Movies That Have Made Me Cry (…or at Least Tear Up): 5 – 1

November 11, 2011 6 comments

<< PART I – Entries 10 – 6

Here I continue to explore the final five of ten films that have made me cry… or at least tear up at certain points. While I cannot guarantee that they will make you cry, these have and definitely will continue to have the same effect on me that they did the first time around. And while this is not a definitive list, this half of the list does contain the one definitive film that will always get me choked up whenever I sit down to watch it, so read on through if you’re looking to see a grown man cry. That is, if you can see through your own tears, of course. Read more…

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