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Review: “Clueless”

May 31, 2013 3 comments
CluelessDirected by: Amy Heckerling
Produced by: Scott Rudin, Robert Lawrence, Twink Caplan, Adam Schroeder, Barry M. Berg
Written by: Amy Heckerling
Edited by: Debra Chiate
Cinematography by: Bill Pope
Music by: David Kitay
Starring: Alicia Silverstone, Stacey Dash, Brittany Murphy, Paul Rudd, Donald Faison, Breckin Meyer, Dan Hedaya, Elisa Donovan, Justin Walker, Wallace Shawn, Twink Caplan, Jeremy Sisto
Inspired by the novel Emma by Jane Austen
Year: 1995

 

Every once in a while, a film comes along that transcends its trappings and finds a broader than expected audience, only to become a renowned classic. Star Wars was such a film – a silly space opera that managed to become one of the biggest and most influential films of all time. Without it, we would likely have not had the revival of Star Trek and the creation of Alien. The Dark Knight did the same for superhero films, as well, taking its subject seriously and forever changing the expectations regarding the quality of a subgenre that was still considered to be mostly a catalyst for special effects.

Clueless is one of those films – a high school comedy that manages to be both smart and likeable enough that it was a hit with both audiences of all ages as well as becoming a darling with critics who recognized it for its witty dialogue and well developed characters. It was enough of a hit that it even became a well-received TV series. Teen comedies featuring a blonde rich girl protagonist are bound to either make fun of its main character for being a dimwit or, even worse, treat her like a princess who goes on a sort of fun, supposedly meaningful high school experience that will apparently change her life forever. Clueless remains a refreshingly down-to-earth in its scope, despite the characters’ social status. Read more…

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Review: “Mean Girls”

May 30, 2013 2 comments
Mean GirlsDirected by: Mark Waters
Produced by: Lorne Michaels, Tony Shimkin, Louise Rosner, Jill Messick
Written by: Tina Fey (screenplay)
Edited by: Wendy Greene Bricmont
Cinematography by: Daryn Okada
Music by: Rolfe Kent
Starring: Lindsay Lohan, Rachel McAdams, Lizzy Caplan, Daniel Franzese, Lacey Chabert, Amanda Seyfried, Jonathan Bennett, Tina Fey, Tim Meadows, Ana Gasteyer, Neil Flynn, Amy Poehler
Based on the book Queen Bees and Wannabes: Helping Your Daughter Survive Cliques, Gossip, Boyfriends, and Other Realities of Adolescence by Rosalind Wiseman
Year: 2004

 

Girls are awful. As a guy who had to go through his fair share of teasing from other guys from pretty much kindergarten onward, I can say with all honesty that no matter how mean the guys were, nothing compared to the way I saw my female peers treat one another and the guys they were around. One particular incident in 7th grade, where I had a note asking a particular girl out along with a ribbon rose made my mom in what I thought was the girl’s favorite color, has possibly tainted my romantic life forever thanks to the girls teasing me about getting the color wrong and the girl I was asking out taking until the end of the school year to tell me “Yeah… sorry, no,” after months of her flirting with the guy who picked on me. My sister had it even worse, however, being — well, another girl. The stories I heard from her make my experiences seem like a fairy tale with a happily ever after. The types of girls she dealt with apparently either did not see or understand Carrie – they even pulled the old nominating my sister for homecoming queen trick. Luckily, my sister heard about a scheme and managed to avoid whatever it was they were planning. Read more…

Memorial Day Review: “Wings”

WingsDirected by: William A. Wellman
Produced by: Lucien Hubbard, Adolph Zukor, Jesse L. Lasky, B.P. Schulberg, Otto Hermann Kahn
Written by: Julian Johnson
Edited by: E. Lloyd Sheldon, Lucien Hubbard (uncredited)
Cinematography by: Harry Perry
Music by: J.S. Zamecnik
Starring: Charles “Buddy” Rogers, Richard Arlen, Clara Bow, El Brendel, Jobyna Ralston, Gary Cooper
Year: 1927

 

It might be hard to believe for many modern audiences, but there was a time when films had to go without dialogue. Strange, I know! “Silent films,” as we’ve come to all them (as I assume they weren’t called that when they were still the norm), weren’t necessarily all silent – they still had a musical recording or live performance to accompany them, and some, such as this one, even had sound effects synced up with the film, albeit usually more for ambiance than anything. By the time that Wings had been released, the more accurately named “talkies” were already in production, with the first feature length film with synchronized dialogue, The Jazz Singer, was released just months after Wings’ theatrical debut. If you’ve at the very least seen Singin’ in the Rain, you know what kind of impact The Jazz Singer had on filmmaking. Read more…

Review: “Steel Magnolias” (1989)

Steel Magnolias (1989)Directed by: Herbert Ross
Produced by: Ray Stark, Andrew Stone, Victoria White
Written by: Robert Harling
Edited by: Paul Hirsch
Cinematography by: John A. Alonzo
Music by: Georges Delerue
Starring: Sally Field, Dolly Parton, Shirley MacLaine, Daryl Hannah, Olympia Dukakis, Julia Roberts, Tom Skerritt, Sam Shepard, Dylan McDermott, Kevin J. O’Connor
Based on the play by Robert Harling
Year: 1989

 

Steel Magnolias is one of those films I used to automatically think about when I thought of the term “chick flick.” It may well be one of those movies, like Sleepless in Seattle, which helped make me aware that movies can become so “gendered” and that there’s such a stigma attached to them that, if you just happened to like the film and not be part of the target demographic (i.e., women), then people begin to… well… “question” you. And I think I knowingly let this affect my enjoyment of the film and would overtly express my disgust for the film whenever the prospect of putting it on arose. Of course, I was probably ten around that time, but that stigma tainted all my future attempts to watch this movie with my mom, who happens to be a huge fan, even though I knew that, secretly, I found much to enjoy about it. And, even then, having been long since out of the house, time has also certainly taken its toll on my memory as to what it was that I enjoyed. Read more…

Theatrical Review: “Star Trek Into Darkness”

May 18, 2013 3 comments
Directed by: J.J. Abrams
Produced by: J.J. Abrams, Bryan Burk, Damon Lindelof, Alex Kurtzman, Roberto Orci
Written by: Roberto Orci, Alex Kurtzman, Damon Lindelof
Edited by: Maryann Brandon, Mary Jo Markey
Cinematography by: Daniel Mindel
Music by: Michael Giacchino
Starring: Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Zoe Saldaña, Benedict Cumberbatch, Karl Urban, John Cho, Alice Eve, Bruce Greenwood, Simon Pegg, Peter Weller, Anton Yelchin
Year: 2013

 

After years of anticipation, the sequel to J.J. Abrams’ bold new restart of the Star Trek film franchise is finally here. Though it was the eleventh film in the series, as the first film set in this alternate universe, it was also the franchise’s first step in an attempt to grab at a brighter future after years of the franchise taking a dive in both quality and creativity. With the promise of the series shedding years of expectations and established canon with a bit of time travel, 2009’s Star Trek brilliantly maneuvered the series into a position where it could once again surprise new audiences, Trekkies, and Trekkers alike. Read more…

Review: “Titanic” (1997)

May 15, 2013 3 comments
TitanicDirected by: James Cameron
Produced by: James Cameron, Jon Landau
Written by: James Cameron
Edited by: Conrad Buff, James Cameron, Richard A. Harris
Cinematography by: Russell Carpenter
Music by: James Horner
Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Kate Winslet, Billy Zane, Kathy Bates, Frances Fisher, Bernard Hill, Jonathan Hyde, David Warner, Victor Garber, Bill Paxton, Gloria Stuart, Danny Nucci, Jason Barry, Suzy Amis, Ioan Gruffudd
Year: 1997

 

Titanic is responsible for exposing me to what is very likely my first experience with the phenomena of backlash toward something popular. Though I was just 11 when the film first released back in 1997 and had very little interest in actually seeing this 3-hour epic romance, I distinctly remember getting caught up with the other guys in my class who took great joy in teasing the girls who had begun bragging that they had seen the movie multiple times and memorized every moment. I even remember writing a sort of anti-fanfic of the film that I read in front of my 5th grade class for an English writing assignment wherein I was transported into the setting of the film and took the place of Jack and Rose at the end of the ship as it was sinking, thus dooming them both to a watery grave. There was also probably some destruction of a certain famous drawing from the film and the theft of the giant blue diamond. I hadn’t even seen the film at that point, but I had heard so much about it, I basically knew all the plot points and buttons to press that would set off the girls’ tempers and win the favor of the guys. Read more…

Review: “Dirty Dancing”

May 9, 2013 3 comments
Dirty DancingDirected by: Emile Ardolino
Produced by: Linda Gottlieb
Written by: Eleanor Bergstein
Edited by: Peter C. Frank
Cinematography by: Jeffrey Jur
Music by: John Morris, Erich Bulling
Starring: Patrick Swayze, Jennifer Grey, Jerry Orbach, Cynthia Rhodes, Kelly Bishop, Jane Brucker, Jack Weston, Max Cantor, Lonny Price
Year: 1987

 

It speaks to a film’s popularity when a single song can instantly remind you of the film, even if you haven’t seen it. For this movie, the song that most people think of is the Bill Medley and Jennifer Warnes duet “(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life,” the declaration of love in the form of a cheesy 80s pop ballad that inexplicably serves as the catalyst for the film’s final dance number, despite the film being set in the early 1960s. Oddly enough, this wasn’t the song that reminded me of this film’s existence and necessitated its inclusion into Girly Movie Month. The credit for that goes to yet another 80s pop song, “Hungry Eyes,” which similarly finds its way into the film as one of many anachronisms that likely served to make the film more palatable to the 80s teen audience the film was aiming for at the time of its release. Read more…

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