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FULL METAL JUSTIN
If you missed our November meeting, you missed something very
unique. Justin Proveaux, who is one of our youngest members, gave
a talk on a video game called METAL GEAR SOLID. MGS is a first person
shooter game (i.e. to advance in the game, you need to shoot adversaries
or targets). But, in between the marksmanship challenges, is a cohesive
and well-animated storyline. It took Justin several hours to
copy the storyline from his game onto a tape and create a 2 hour ‘movie’
that the entire club could enjoy.
The finished product of his editing was the theatrical ‘cuts’
from METAL GEAR SOLID 3: SNAKE EATER. The film began with a song
that was reminiscent of Shirley Bassey’s version of GOLDFINGER and continued
into a Cold-War plot that involved weapons technology, double crosses,
spy adventure and lush imagery. Film lovers could spot references
to the Bond films, KILL BILL and various others.
In case you are curious about the film – here’s some trivia from
The character of Naked Snake in the game was designed after Sean
Connery's portrayal of James Bond. This was done, since in Metal Gear 2:
Solid Snake, the character design of Big Boss himself was also originally
modeled after the older Sean Connery.
In late 2002, the staff planned to visit the International Spy
Museum in Washington, DC for research purposes. They ended up canceling
the trip because of the Beltway sniper attacks.
You did a great job, Justin – thanks for taking so much time
to transfer the story for us and giving us a look into the world of modern
* NEW POLICY FOR MINORS *
Effective immediately is a new minors policy for the club.
We have decided that we need to be in line with the general MPAA guidelines.
Minors are not permitted to attend NC-17 or unrated movies at
club meetings. Upcoming presenters must announce at least one month
prior to their night that they will offer NC-17 or unrated movies.
Presenters who fail to notify the club ahead of time will not be allowed
to offer NC-17 or unrated movies in the presence of minors. Therefore,
because of this policy, we will return to the practice of choosing the
late feature a month in advance. If the feature selected is NC-17,
minors will not be permitted to watch.
Since minors will no longer have full access to the club meetings,
membership for minors is now free. If you have children who may enjoy
our films, we encourage you to bring them – Steve Vaught will even make
them a badge!
NEWS OF OUR NEXT MEETING –3RD TO LAST SATURDAY
Our next meeting will be held on Saturday December 17th at 5:30
P.M. at the church hall behind the Perry Hall Presbyterian Church located
at 8848 BelAir Road. Take Baltimore Beltway exit 32 north on Belair Road.
Turn left onto Joppa Road. Immediately past the miniature golf course turn
left into the parking lot. If you miss it there are ample turn-around opportunities.
If you get stuck call 443-570-6455. That's Dave Willard’s cell phone. He'll
talk you in.
Please note that we are meeting on the 17th, which is not the last
Saturday of the month – it is the weekend before Christmas.
DECEMBER PRESENTATION – END OF THE YEAR…
… End of the World!!! Bring plenty of canned goods, drinking
water and ammo as John Ward emcees mankind’s final days. Film selections
include THE OMEGA MAN and 28 DAYS LATER along with an assortment of other
titles. It will be a fab-apocalypse time!
ICS KING KONG
Just when you thought you’d have to wait 6 weeks to see your
ICS friends between the December and January meeting, you now have the
opportunity for a mid-month get together. ICS is renting out the
balcony at the Senator Theater on Saturday, January 7, 2006 to view KING
KONG. Admission is $10 and is limited to 40 members – turn in your
money to Regina at the next meeting. The reservations are held when
the payment is received. Friends and guests are welcome to attend.
The attendance list is:
Norman Jones & Guest
YANKEE SWAP – CELEBRITY AUTOGRAPHS BY JOE!
In December we'll be doing our annual Yankee Swap. It's always
a lot of fun. We recommend bringing movie related gifts only with a limit
of $25 and a receipt attached. A gift card for a movie related store
is always a good choice too.
And for those of you on the fence about which item to bring to
the Swap, know that board member and librarian extraordinaire, Joe Plempel,
promised to procure, within a matter of minutes, celebrity autographs to
increase the value of any gift!
HEAR YE HEAR YE! ELECTIONS ARE NEAR!
Our annual elections will be held at the January
2006 meeting. The requirements for running for election are simple
– have a paid 2006 membership to the club, be willing to give up an extra
day in the month for a board meeting and have a strong interest in helping
the club prosper. If you’d like to run, please let John Ward know.
The current candidate list is as follows:
This is just a reminder that membership dues expire
on New Year's Day. It will be time to pony up for the coming year. Individuals
are $25. Couples are $40. Extra family members who reside at the same address
are $15 each added the primary membership. We hope that you decide
to join us for an exciting year ahead.
Dues can be paid to Regina at meetings or sent via paypal to ICSFILM@HOTMAIL.COM
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WHO WILL HIT THE USA
Burton Cromer—vice president of BBC Direct, which is releasing the
first season of the British SF series Doctor Who on DVD—told SCI FI Wire
that the BBC made the unusual decision to release the DVD in the United
States before the show had found a broadcast outlet there. But he added
that the show will find its way onto American TV, one way or another.
"It will be going on television," Cromer said in an interview. "There're
lots of discussions going on, and I can't really talk about that. This
is a unique situation, really, because there are so many fans of Doctor
Who ... already out there, and we were just finding [that] people were
getting ... secondhand copies or copies from the U.K. ... We really wanted
fans to get the best, most complete version in the United States as [soon
as] we possibly could. So we made the decision, and it is unique, to go
ahead of the TV broadcast with the DVD and to release the gift set of the
DVD basically within two and a half to three months [after] the U.K. [version]."
Since its premiere earlier this year, the updated Doctor Who has been
a smash hit in Great Britain, and U.S. fans have been clamoring for a way
to see the series legally stateside. There's no downside to a U.S. DVD
release, even if the show has yet to be seen on American TV, Cromer added.
"The good news for us is that we already have that loyal fan base, but
then when the show does broadcast in the U.S., we'll have a whole new fan
base, because it's just a new Doctor Who: very exciting, but still the
great stories and as great as the old Doctor Who," he said.
Doctor Who is gearing up production of its second season in the United
Kingdom, which will appear next year. A special Christmas episode, meanwhile,
will air this month. The U.S. DVD will feature the entire first season
of Doctor Who, starring Christopher Eccleston and Billie Piper. It hits
stores on Feb. 14, 2006.
TNT AWAKENS NIGHTMARES
TNT announced that it will air Nightmares & Dreamscapes: From the
Stories of Stephen King, an anthology series of eight one-hour episodes
adapted from King's short stories. It will premiere on TNT in the summer
of 2006. The network provided a summary of some of the upcoming episodes.
•William H. Macy and Jacqueline McKenzie (The 4400) will star in "Umney's
Last Case," about a fictional private eye whose author decides he wants
to take the place of his detective creation to escape from the tragedy
of his own life.
•Kim Delaney (NYPD Blue) and Steven Weber (The Shining) star in "You
Know They Got a Hell of a Band," about a young couple who happen upon a
town in which all of the residents share a deadly secret while gearing
up for the concert of a lifetime.
•Samantha Mathis (The Mists of Avalon) and Jeremy Sisto (Six Feet Under)
headline "The Fifth Quarter," in which Sisto plays a recently released
criminal who learns from his dying friend of a map torn into four parts
that leads to the location of $1 million taken during a robbery.
•Ron Livingston (Band of Brothers) and Henry Thomas (E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial)
star in "The End of the Whole Mess," in which a filmmaker documents his
final hour of life and tells the story of his brother's discovery of a
chemical that ends all violence, but with catastrophic results.
•Tom Berenger plays a prize-winning author in "The Road Virus Heads
North." On a road trip, he stops at a yard sale to buy a painting, which
he realizes is slowly changing and may be controlling his fate. Marsha
•William Hurt (The Village) headlines "Battleground," playing the killer
of a toymaker who receives a package of toy soldiers that aren't the usual
Nightmares & Dreamscapes comes to TNT from Bill Haber's Ostar Enterprises,
with Haber executive-producing. The series is produced by Mike Robe, Jeffrey
Hayes and John J. McMahon.
LOST PODCAST GIVES NEW CLUES
ABC will offer new podcasts to accompany its hit series Lost, with
producers discussing new clues, offering behind-the-scenes glimpses and
providing scene-by-scene commentary on recent episodes, the network announced.
In the third installment, now live, creator/executive producer Damon
Lindelof and executive producer Carlton Cuse offer clues and discuss the
upcoming episode "Collision," which airs Nov. 23 at 9 p.m. ET/PT. The producers
also look at last week's episode, "The Other 48 Days," which revealed the
backstory of the new group of Flight 815 survivors. New cast regular Cynthia
Watros (Libby) also talks about her experiences moving to Hawaii and joining
A Thanksgiving podcast will go live on Nov. 24, featuring supervising
producers/writers Javier Grillo-Marxuach and Leonard Dick, with commentary
The Nov. 28 podcast will be the last of the calendar year, with Lindelof
and Cuse discussing the writing process on the show and the upcoming episode
"What Kate Did."
(And if you really want the news – Cynthia Watros and Michelle Rodriguez
were stopped and charged with DUI on the Hawaiian highways. What fun the
GALACTICA BACK ONCE MORE
SCI FI Channel announced that it has renewed its original series Battlestar
Galactica for a third season. Production on the 20-episode order is slated
to begin in Vancouver, Canada, in February 2006 for premiere later in the
year, the network said.
The entire ensemble cast returns for the new season, including Edward
James Olmos, Mary McDonnell, Katee Sackhoff, Jamie Bamber, James Callis,
Tricia Helfer and Grace Park. Also returning are executive producer and
writer Ronald D. Moore and executive producer David Eick.
Currently in its second season, Galactica is a hit with audiences.
The second season resumes with new episodes on Jan. 6, 2006, as part of
the winter premiere of SCI FI Friday. Battlestar Galactica is from NBC
Universal Television Studio.
SG-1 ADDS BLACK TO CAST
Claudia Black (Farscape) joins the regular cast of SCI FI Channel's
original series Stargate SG-1 in its upcoming 10th season, and the principal
cast members of both SG-1 and its spinoff series, Stargate Atlantis, have
signed on to reprise their roles in the recently announced new seasons,
the network said.
Black, who plays the recurring role of Vala in SG-1's current ninth
season, becomes a regular, joining stars Ben Browder, Amanda Tapping, Christopher
Judge, Michael Shanks and Beau Bridges, who will all return.
Stargate SG-1 becomes the longest-running SF drama on U.S. television
and will mark its 200th episode in the upcoming season.
SG-1 wraps up its ninth season with new episodes starting on Jan. 6,
2006, paired with the final new second-season episodes of Atlantis and
new episodes of Battlestar Galactica.
TRIANGLE CAST FACES REAL CHILLS
The cast of SCI FI Channel's upcoming original miniseries The Triangle
told SCI FI Wire that shooting the show for three months in South Africa
offered thrills and some literal chills. "Shooting on that continent was
rather extraordinary," said Eric Stoltz, who plays skeptical reporter Howard
Thomas. "We would be ... sitting in our room, and baboons would come and
invade the camp. Seriously. Yeah. Things like that would happen. Or we'd
be out in the water, and I saw a great white fin. I mean, things happen."
Bruce Davison, who plays psychic Stan Lathem, expressed surprise at
news of the sharks. "You didn’t tell me about that," he said.
"No, I didn't share that with everybody," Stoltz said. "We were shooting
in a place called Shark Alley, ... and a woman had just been killed there
the month before."
The Triangle centers on a team of experts hired to get to the bottom
of the phenomenon of the Bermuda Triangle, a region of the Atlantic Ocean
that has been the site of hundreds of supposed mysterious disappearances
of planes and ships over the decades. The miniseries required the cast
to spend many days in the water off the coast of South Africa and in a
special tank on the coast.
"There were three shark attacks and deaths while we were there," said
Catherine Bell, who plays deep-ocean resource engineer Emily Patterson,
referring to incidents unrelated to the production. "We had to go in the
water at one point, but it was a tidal pool, so it was kind of protected.
And it was also freezing."
Though the cast was never in real danger of a shark attack, they found
themselves frequently chilled by the cold water during the filming, which
often took place at night during South Africa's winter. To keep warm they
wore wetsuits under their clothing and even employed hot-water bottles
"There's a shot of all of us standing there like this, holding tea
and, like, hot-water bottles on our heads," Bell said. "It’s really glamorous.
... [But] it was freezing."
Added Lou Diamond Phillips, who plays family man and environmentalist
Meeno Paloma: "In the last installment of the miniseries, we are all drenched
for two hours of screen time, which is a good month's worth of drenching.
We're either in the Indian Ocean—I don't even want to fathom, so to speak,
how cold that might have been—but if we're not [in the water], we're having
to go into the rainstorm. Or you're running into the building, but you're
drenched. ... When you're shooting something for 12 hours, you are soaked
to the bone all day long, and it's just not glamorous."
To keep warm, Phillips said, "literally, we tried everything. We were
trying wetsuits. We were trying wetsuits with dry suits on top. We were
trying dry suits without the wetsuits with long johns. I mean, every possible
combination to retain your body heat. ... At a certain point, you give
up your dignity and go, 'You know what? I just want to be comfortable.
I just want to be warm, so I don't care what I look like.'" The Triangle
premieres at 9 p.m. ET/PT on Dec. 5.
TRIANGLE RINGS UP HIGHT RATINGS
The Dec. 5 premiere of SCI FI Channel's original miniseries The Triangle
was the highest-rated program to air on the network since 2003 and is SCI
FI's highest-rated miniseries premiere since 2002's Steven Spielberg Presents
Taken, the channel announced. Triangle's first episode averaged a 3.7 household
rating, or more than 4.3 million viewers, in its 9-11 p.m. timeslot.
The Triangle delivered more total viewers than Fox's Arrested Development
and Kitchen Confidential, as well as all programs on The WB and UPN.
The Triangle was also the number-one non-sports program on cable for
the day in household ratings and audience delivery. The Triangle concludes
at 9 p.m. ET/PT on Dec. 7.
ABC announced that its spy series Alias will end its five-season run
in May 2006. The spy drama has seen its ratings fall since moving to Thursdays
from Wednesdays this season. The pregnancy of star Jennifer Garner, meanwhile,
has necessitated retooling the show, with new cast members, a new story
arc and an upcoming mid-season hiatus while Garner has her baby.
Entertainment President Stephen McPherson said in a statement: "Alias
is not going to wind down as it comes to an end; it's going to rev up,
and we're going to make it the event it deserves to be."
From creator J.J. Abrams, Alias has earned seven Emmy Awards, and Garner
won a Golden Globe for the role as superspy Sydney Bristow in 2002.
This season, Alias added new cast members Balthazar Getty as Thomas
Grace, Rachel Nichols as Rachel Gibson and Élodie Bouchez as Renée
Rienne. In addition to Garner, the Alias cast includes Victor Garber, Ron
Rifkin, Carl Lumbly and Kevin Weisman.
Alias was created by J.J. Abrams, who executive-produces the series
along with Ken Olin, Jeff Pinkner, Jesse Alexander and Jeffrey Bell.
movienewsmovienews Silver Screen movienewsmovienews
Arnett Stars in Demon
Arrested Development star Will Arnett will
star in New Line's supernatural comedy film Jeff the Demon, with Da Ali
G Show's writer-director James Bobin directing. Jeff the Demon, written
by Tom Scharpling and Joe Ventura, centers on a pair of high school losers
who find a book that allows them to summon a power from the netherworld.
The demon, Jeff, helps them win every battle and right every wrong in their
lives, but they quickly find that further problems ensue.
PENNY DREADFUL Roaring in Soon
A new horror feature called PENNY DREADFUL
(no relation to the same-titled short by Bryan Norton) is headed our way.
Directed by Richard Brandes, who also scripted (with Diane Doniol-Valcroze
and Arthur Flam) and produced, the movie stars Rachel Miner (BULLY) as
a teenaged girl who has suffered a phobia of automobiles ever since an
accident in which her parents died. Her therapist (GINGER SNAPS’ Mimi Rogers)
takes her on a driving trip in an attempt to cure her of her fears, and
instead they end up facing new ones after they run into a murderous stranger
on the road late at night.
Sinbad Sails Down the Drain
Sony will no longer make The 8th Voyage of
Sinbad, which Keanu Reeves was set to star in. Sinbad would have been directed
by Rob Cohen and produced by Neal Moritz. Cohen's $135-million Stealth
was a summer flop, grossing just $32.1 million in domestic theaters and
generating a Sony loss of almost $50 million. “It didn't seem like a good
idea for us to make that movie after Stealth,” a studio spokesperson said
Adams Gets Enchanted
Amy Adams has been named to play the princess
in Enchanted, a Disney romantic fable that will mix live action with computer
animation. Kevin Lima (102 Dalmatians) is directing. Originally scripted
by Bill Kelly, Enchanted is about a princess-in-waiting who's banished
by an evil queen from the cartoon world of Andalasia to the hardened world
of present-day New York. The film turns to live action, and so does the
princess. She attempts to navigate the city, find true love and save herself.
Barry Sonnenfeld and Barry Josephson are producing.
Electra, Nielsen & Rex Back for 4th Scary
Carmen Electra, Leslie Nielsen and Simon Rex
will star in Scary Movie 4 for Dimension Films. Electra, who died in the
original installment of the Scary Movie franchise, is back to play a new
character in a plotline that parodies The Village. Nielsen and Rex will
reprise their roles from Scary Movie 3. Anna Faris and Regina Hall already
have joined the project. The film opens with a scene featuring Shaquille
O'Neal and Dr. Phil. The fourth chapter of the spoof franchise takes on
horror and superhero movies, and like the third part is once again aiming
for a PG-13 rating (the first two were R-rated.)
Jane Signs on to Mutant Chronicles
Thomas Jane (The Punisher) will star in The
Mutant Chronicles, a feature-film adaptation of the role-playing board
game of the same name. The movie is set in the 23rd century, in which four
giant corporations have pillaged the last of the planet's resources, causing
a demonic, marauding army of underworld “NecroMutants” to wage war against
humans for what remains. Jane will play a battle-weary Marine who leads
a squad of soldiers against the alien hordes. Simon Hunter will direct
The Mutant Chronicles from a screenplay he wrote with Ross Jameson. The
movie is set to go before the cameras in the spring.
Robinsons to Go 3-D
Walt Disney Pictures said it will release
its upcoming computer-animated movie Meet the Robinsons in a three-dimensional
version, following the success of current 3-D hit Chicken Little. Meet
the Robinsons is based on a book by William Joyce in which a young boy
travels into the future and meets an eccentric family, the Robinsons, who
will change his life.
The 3-D Chicken Little is being closely watched
in Hollywood as an early test of alternative types of movies made for new
digital cinema systems. The industry is in a very early, tentative stage
of a transition to digital projection from old celluloid filmstrip. Disney
expects to release the 3-D Meet the Robinsons in 750 to 1,000 screens as
a digital cinema transition expands.
Peter Jackson, John Cox’s FX Companies on HOST
A number of notable FX houses will contribute
work to THE HOST, a creature feature that marks one of the biggest-budget
productions ever in South Korea. California-based The Orphanage will provide
visual monster FX, Peter Jackson’s Weta Workshop in New Zealand will produce
scannable maquettes of the beast and the Australian Cox’s Creature Workshop
(whose credits include PITCH BLACK, KOMODO and Oscar-winning work on BABE)
is in charge of the animatronics. Their contributions will amount to nearly
half of the movie’s $10-million budget.
Directed by Bong Joon-ho, whose previous films
include the serial-killer drama MEMORIES OF MURDER, THE HOST is about a
mutant creature that arises from Seoul’s Han River to attack humans, and
stars MEMORIES’ Song Kang-ho, Park Hae-il and Byeon Hie-bong. Principal
photography began this past summer, with shooting scheduled to wrap up
next month. Lewis Kim of production company Chungeorahm said he hopes to
attract a Hollywood studio partner once some of the FX work has been completed.
Terror-Train Film ISOBAR is Reborn
Voltage Pictures has resurrected the long-mooted
sci-fi monster movie ISOBAR. Once slated to be directed by Roland Emmerich
with FX by Rick Baker, and initially set to star Sylvester Stallone (who
had Emmerich brought over from Germany for the project after seeing the
director’s MOON 44,) ISOBAR fell apart more than a decade ago over budget
issues. Peter Winther (THE LIBRARIAN), a producer on several of Devlin
and Roland Emmerich’s past features, will direct the $70-million film.
The original script (written by FIGHT CLUB’s
Jim Uhls) took place on a runaway train with a rampaging plant creature
onboard. (The same basic premise was utilized by the Sci Fi Channel’s ALIEN
EXPRESS earlier this year, with Lou Diamond Phillips and Todd Bridges riding
the rails.) According to the current synopsis, ISOBAR takes place in 2097,
where mankind has been forced to live underground due to the destruction
of the Earth’s ozone layer. A magnetic railroad system shuttles 1,000 passengers
at a time from NY to LA to Tokyo, but soon an unwanted stowaway begins
making monstrous mischief.
JASON GOES TO HELL Director Goes Up THE HILL
JASON GOES TO HELL director Adam Marcus has
begun preproduction on his latest genre effort, THE HILL. The film is set
to shoot in Montreal in February. Marcus and wife Debra Sullivan co-wrote
THE HILL, which concerns a stepfather who moves his family to a rural town
where he grew up, only to discover that the place has come under the spell
of an occult group.
“The story is about a broken family,” Marcus
said, “made up of three kids, a mom and a stepdad, who the kids hate. The
family moves into a deserted house, located in Massachusetts. One night,
the 14-year-old boy sees the townspeople about to sacrifice a young girl,
but no one believes him. The girl winds up with the family, and the evil
fanatics besiege the house, just like in STRAW DOGS. See, the cultists
have to kill the girl before dawn. So the whole movie takes place in one
Morgan Adapting The Psycho
Screenwriter Chris Morgan (the upcoming Fast
and Furious: Tokyo Drift) has been hired by Universal to adapt the superhero
comic book The Psycho. The comic, created by Dan Bereton and James Hudnall,
is about a world where individuals attain super powers by taking an unpredictable
and potentially lethal drug. The protagonist is a rogue CIA agent who risks
insanity and becomes a "psycho" himself in order to rescue his girlfriend
and expose a political conspiracy.
Cornwell Headed to Dionaea
Australian newcomer Peter Cornwell is in negotiations
to direct The Dionaea House, a supernatural horror thriller that David
Heyman is producing for Warner Brothers.
Written by Eric Heisserer, the story centers
on a married man who has grown apart from his old friends. When one of
them commits a double murder-suicide, the men feel compelled to investigate,
eventually stumbling upon an evil force that perpetuates itself through
tract housing(?!) At least it’s original…
Cornwell would come to the project off the
strength of a 14-minute claymation short he wrote, directed and produced
titled Ward 13. The short, about a man waking up in an insane asylum and
trying to break free while facing all sorts of bad guys, took Cornwell
years to make.
Journey Goes 3-D
Walden Media and New Line have joined forces
to co-finance Journey 3-D, a modern take on the Jules Verne classic Journey
to the Center of the Earth. Eric Brevig, who won a Special Achievement
Academy Award for his visual-effects work on Total Recall, will make his
feature directorial debut. D.V. DeVincentis (High Fidelity) has written
the script. The film will be shot in live action, but the otherworldly
landscapes and creatures will be supplied by high-definition, photo-real
3-D technology. Production will begin in April.
Journey 3-D centers on a modern day teenager
and his scientist father who stumble onto a message hidden in an ancient
artifact. Their attempt to solve the riddle leads them into a previously
unseen world and the creatures that inhabit it.
White Noise 2 Coalesces
Gold Circle Films is moving forward with White
Noise 2: The Light, a sequel to the supernatural horror film from earlier
this year. White Noise, produced by Gold Circle and distributed by Universal
Pictures, grossed $57 million when it was released in January. The sequel
project is out to directors, with a production start date aim of first-quarter
In the sequel, scripted by Matt Venne, a man's
family is murdered, and he is brought back from the brink of death. The
man realizes he has changed and can now identify those among the living
who are about to die. When he tries to save people, he discovers there
is a price to be paid for interfering with the natural order of life and
POLSON Tries a Little TENDERNESS
HIDE AND SEEK director John Polson will next
direct TENDERNESS. Polson also directed SWIMFAN; like that film, this one’s
a teen psychothriller. It’s based on Robert Cormier’s book, which focuses
on Eric, a good-looking teenaged serial killer, and Lori, a young girl
who can’t help loving him—even after he tries to murder her. Emil Stern
wrote the script, and shooting is scheduled to begin early next year.
THIRST Actress Talks
Principal photography has been completed on
Mindfire Entertainment’s THE THIRST. Directed by Jeremy Kasten (THE ATTIC
EXPEDITIONS) and starring Jeremy Sisto (WRONG TURN) and Adam Baldwin (SERENITY),
THE THIRST was previously described by Mindfire producer Mark Altman as
“very, very bloody”—and adult model/actress ‘Malice,’ who appears in the
film as a stripper in a fetish club, concurs. During the Los Angeles shoot,
she said, “I was covered in spurting blood so profuse that it reminded
me of the old martial arts movies where people spray gallons [of it].”
She explains the FX-heavy scene: “Adam Baldwin,
playing a vampire, snapped the arm of a patron in the strip club; I was
playing the stripper who had been giving the customer a lap dance when
all hell broke loose! They sprayed kung-fu-horror amounts of blood all
over me while I lay there topless. I was literally drenched from head to
toe in the stuff while [Baldwin] gargled it and spat one-liners at me.
I didn’t have to fake my gasping, flinching reaction; I couldn’t help it
since I was being drenched! The mess afterward was very impressive. This
is going to be one very bloody movie.”
Autonomous Effects, the new shop headed by
Jason Collins (who previously served up gore for 13 GHOSTS and HOUSE ON
HAUNTED HILL), handled the gags, and was “amazing to work with,” Malice
continues. “I never thought I’d be able to be naked and covered in blood
in a room full of people and not feel uncomfortable, but the crew managed
to make that a reality.”
Hall Cues 6 Records
FX artist Robert Hall, whose Almost Human
company has been busy on a string of films this year (HOUSE OF THE DEAD
II, LAST RITES, ROOM 6, etc.), has a new directorial effort in the works:
an album “backmasking” horror yarn called 6 RECORDS. “6 RECORDS is something
I’ve been writing since before I directed LIGHTNING BUG, and is my first
real foray into horror,” Hall said in a recent interview. “I wrote it with
[HELLRAISER and LIGHTNING BUG actress] Ashley Laurence, and it’s about
a washed-up musician who goes on a terrifying journey through his past
by way of playing his own record albums backward. It’s more like a horror
MEMENTO than TRICK OR TREAT. We’ll hopefully be shooting by spring, and
Ashley and Rob Schneider are attached to star so far.”
Yes, that Rob Schneider. The former SATURDAY NIGHT
LIVE performer and DEUCE BIGALOW star. “Rob loved LIGHTNING BUG and, believe
it or not, he’s a big horror fan,” Hall reveals. “We have several horror
projects we’ll be doing together next year, 6 RECORDS being the first.”
Hall adds that 6 RECORDS will follow in the
moody tradition of the RING films and WHITE NOISE. A teaser site for the
movie is already available at www.6records.com, where he further notes,
“6 RECORDS is one man’s journey through his haunted past by way of playing
his own record albums backward, hoping for clues or messages that will
lead him to redemption. I want to create a stunning psychological horror
film in the vein of MEMENTO, but with more horror elements. It will not
be a slick, polished piece, but rather look like a film that was shot in
the early ’80s.
“6 RECORDS will not rely on cheap scares and
gore for the thrills,” Hall continues. “Instead, it will be a true character
piece about how lies, betrayal and deceit lead one man to a desperate path
searching for messages that may or may not be hidden in his own words.”
Of the film’s subject matter, Hall explains,
“The concept of backmasking or reversed speech has never been fully explored
in a film, with the exception of 1986’s gimmicky TRICK OR TREAT. I want
to capture that feeling of goosebumps you get when you hear the human voice
reversed and tap into the possibilities for its existence. [With 6 RECORDS]
we will open up the story with religious overtones and explanations, and
throughout the film our main character will explore the practical and overt
reasoning for the phenomenon. I believe the reason for the goosebumps and
creep factor is that the human voice backward is almost intelligible by
the brain, but our thinking brain can’t make sense of it, so it’s frightening
to us on a subconscious level. I want to tap into what is said backward
and how those things in the subconscious can be dangerous or even deadly.”
Tassoni Talks New Lamberto Bava Film
Italian actress Coralina Cataldi Tassoni recently
talked about her latest acting venture. A veteran of such chillers as Dario
Argento’s OPERA and Lamberto Bava’s DEMONS 2, she re-teamed with Bava for
GHOST SON, which filmed in South Africa and also stars Laura Harring (MULHOLLAND
DR.), John Hannah, Pete Postlethwaite (DARK WATER) and young actress Musa
Keiser (HOTEL RWANDA).
I describe it as a psychological thriller
with a twist,” Tassoni said. “An American woman, Stacey [Harring], is vacationing
with her best friend, played by myself, in Africa. She meets and falls
in love with a man named Mark [Hannah], who lives on a remote and isolated
ranch. Stacey remains in Africa, and even with all my trying to convince
her to come back home with me to the U.S., her love for this man keeps
her wanting to live there with him forever. The story evolves into an intense
romance, but then Mark dies in a tragic car accident. Stacey is devastated—and
then one day she finds out she is pregnant. The only one who could possibly
be the father is Mark’s ghost, which ever since his death has been by her
side day and night. Pete Postlethwaite plays the doctor and only friend
with whom Stacey can find some solace.”
Tassoni has been mostly devoting herself to
her music and art (you can find out more about it at her personal website)
since appearing in Argento’s 1998 PHANTOM OF THE OPERA. She recalls, “Bava
e-mailed me one day saying he wanted to talk to me, so I called him and
he said he had this part for me and to get ready to go to South Africa.
One month later, I found myself once again working with Bava, this time
surrounded by the incredible lands of South Africa..” As of now, GHOST
SON has no U.S. distribution set up, but you can see a trailer and find
out more about it at its official website.
Singer Talks Superman Cameos
Bryan Singer said he was thrilled that Jack
Larson and Noel Neill, who both starred in previous Superman incarnations,
both agreed to make brief appearances in Singer's upcoming Superman Returns.
Neill played Lois Lane in the 1948 serial that starred Kirk Alyn as Clark
Kent/Superman and also in the 1950s TV series Adventures of Superman opposite
George Reeves as the title superhero. Larson co-starred as Jimmy Olsen
in the TV show.
"Jack makes a cameo, which is great, " Singer
said in an interview. "It was nice. It was really great to have him all
the way out here in Australia. He's a good guy. Noel is awesome. It was
great to have them down here. It really inspires everyone to have people
from that period here and to hear them tell stories. It was great."
Singer recalled the day that Larson first
caught a glimpse of Superman Returns star Brandon Routh in his Superman
costume. "I was standing next to Jack, and I was going to introduce him
to Brandon," he said. "It was on the roof of the Daily Planet building.
I was standing next to him, and he's talking, and he's holding his copy
of the script, and as he's doing that he suddenly looks up and he goes,
'Oh, there he is.' I didn't know what he was looking at. Then I looked
over, and it was Brandon in his Superman suit, which I'd been seeing every
day. It's always something to see, but for Jack it was a moment. I don't
think he'd seen someone in a Superman suit since 1951." Superman Returns
will take flight on June 30, 2006.
How Superman Resurrects Brando
Bryan Singer, producer-director of the upcoming
Superman Returns, said that he used every trick in the book to resurrect
the late Marlon Brando and include him in the film as Jor-El. Brando played
the role of Superman's father in director Richard Donner's original 1978
Superman movie. He died in July 2004 at the age of 80.
To recreate Brando's version of the character
in his new Superman movie, Singer said in an interview that he used “a
combination of unused footage, [used] footage and recreated footage. You
won't necessarily see Marlon Brando walking around or reanimated in a conventional
sense, but you will hear [dialogue] that you have heard before [and] takes
that you haven't heard before and a rendering that is completely new.”
Singer added that the Brando sequences are
being created with "very raw material" culled from a variety of sources
and locales. “A lot of the stuff was all over the place,” he said. “A lot
of the stuff was in vaults in New York [and] in Los Angeles. I got a hold
of Brando's London [automated dialogue replacement, or looping,] session.
I had very interesting outtakes, which are something to see. So there's
a lot of material. It's great [also] to hear ... Dick's [Donner's] voice
on the ADR sessions, on the raw material. There are a few really funny
moments—we called them 'Brando bloopers'—where you hear Dick and [an uncredited
writer] Tom Mankiewicz in the background. It's cool.”
G. Cameron Romero’s Debut Feature
G. Cameron Romero (zombie master George’s
oldest son), recently talked about his upcoming directorial debut. The
movie, previously titled 24 FRAMES, has now been re-christened THE SCREENING.
“24 FRAMES was always the working title,” Romero said, “and since we began
preproduction in August, the movie itself has undergone a serious shift
in tone. It started off as a rather silly slasher movie, and has evolved
into a pretty hardcore, action-packed horror story.” While he doesn’t want
to spill the details just yet, Romero does reveal that THE SCREENING involves
a series of underground films and the effects they have on those who see
it. “With often horrific results, of course,” he said with a grin.
Produced by Romero’s longtime partner Christofer
Lombardo, THE SCREENING was written by THE RESURRECTION GAME’s Mike Watt.
The filmmakers plan to have the movie ready for release in spring 2006.
The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
This month -a review by Betsy Childs
This movie was an incredible journey. There I was in the
theater, watching old friends come to life. I loved it. The movie not only
was faithful to the book, but I felt it also expanded it visually. Think
of what Jackson’s LOTR did for Tolkien’s books.
Reading this book as a child filled me with wonder. Seeing
the movie made me remember the wonder I felt as a child again. I still
have my set of the seven Narnia books. Haven’t read them in years.
But remember the story well. It sparked my imagination and led me
to some other great stories with fantasy and adventure. Some of them you
all may be familiar with, trips to Pern and Darkover and to visit a Hobbit
and from there it was a short jump to the many Heinlein books written for
The Chronicles of Narnia – the series of stories that
many say can be read either as a Christian allegory or as books of fantasy.
Both seem to be captured in the movie, The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe.
With a Lion King Aslan and a White Witch, we have both good and evil and
innocents caught up in the fight.
The actors – four children, Georgie
Henley as Lucy, William Moseley as Peter, Skandar Keynes as Edmund, and
Anna Popplewell as Susan did a wonderful job of capturing the wonder of
a new world hidden in a wardrobe. Director Andrew Adamson actually
filmed the movie in timeline sequence (which is just not done) so that
he could capture the children’s surprise, innocence and maturity as they
travel through Narnia and step up to the adventures that await there.
It was brilliant and it works well.
The director Andrew Adamson did some amazing things, I
found myself remembering the books and the characters as I had pictured
them and then I was seeing them right there on the screen. Narnia, a land
of Lions, and witches and beavers; oh my.
The make up and costuming was interesting too. It is set
in WW2 England and they keep that accurate. Then there is a new dimension
of Narnia. Many Fantasy animals had to be created – unicorns, fauns and
the like. A whole new world was developed and in that world some
battles to be fought. Both the real life animal costumers and the CGI team
stepped up to the plate and did well.
There were lots of fantasy animals, but my favorites were
Mr. and Mrs. Beaver. Of course, the Lion-king, Aslan voiced by Liam
Neeson captured my heart, just as he did when I was reading the books.
Neesons voice was a perfect choice for Alsan. The lion is a wondrous mixture
of computer CGI and life size puppetry. Adamson said that he didn’t want
to risk using a real lion, but wanted the most realism he could get.
They even had the Lion continue acting off screen, between shoots to keep
the children in character.
Tilda Swinton who plays Jadis, the White Witch was in
spirit and voice perfect. Never had I thought of the White Witch
as a blonde, but it works and Swinton was brilliant in the character. There
is a scene in the final battle that makes her seem invincible. And believable.
That gave me chills. She should be nominated for this role. It is worth
the price of the ticket just to see her.
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe will be a great movie
to see as an adult, but even better to take some children to watch with
you. What fun, what wonderful amazing fun!
IMAGINATIVE CINEMA COMING SOON
MUST SEE MOVIES FOR YOU!
Dec 2nd Aeon flux
Cast: Charlize Theron (Aeon Flux), Frances McDormand (The Handler),
Marton Csokas (Chairman Trevor Goodchild)
Premise: In the 25th century, a rampaging virus has forced the remnants
of humanity into the seclusion of a final city. There is great political
conflict within, however, and this is the story of an acrobatic assassin,
Aeon Flux (Theron), whose latest target is the government's top leader.
Dec 9th The Chronicles of Narnia - The Lion,
the Witch and the Wardrobe.
Cast: Tilda Swinton (Jadis, the White Witch), Georgie Henley
(Lucy), William Moseley (Peter), Skandar Keynes (Edmund), Anna Popplewell
(Susan), Liam Neeson (voice of Aslan)
Premise: A childhood favorite, we have all read. (I hope) Written
by C.S. Lewis, it is a story of four children (Peter, Susan, Edmund and
Lucy Pevensie) who are sent to live with an old professor in the country,
and soon discover that they can walk into a strong wardrobe closet and
find themselves in a strange fantasy land called Narnia filled with a wide
variety of magical and fantastic people and creatures.
Dec 14th KING KONG
Cast: Naomi Watts (Ann Darrow), Jack Black (Carl Denham), Adrien Brody
(Jack Driscoll), Thomas Kretschmann (Captain of the Venture)
Premise: As if this needs ANY introduction. Set in the 1930s, this
is the story of a group of explorers and documentary filmmakers who travel
to the mysterious Skull Island (near Sumatra) to investigate legends of
a giant gorilla named Kong. Ultimately, it is the attention of a beautiful
human woman (Watts) that soothes Kong long enough for him to be subdued
by the explorers and shipped back to New York, where his bleak future involves
being put on display in front of humans... but how long can even the mightiest
shackles of man hold back an ape 25 feet tall?
Jan 6th 2006 The Gathering
Cast: Christina Ricci, Jennifer Beals, Stephen Dillane, Kerry Fox,
Ioan Gruffudd, Blair Plant (Father Bernard), Bridget Turner (Mrs. Groves)
Premise: Set in rural England in present day, The Gathering centers
on a first century church that is unearthed near an English countryside
town, where a remarkable and sinister mural is found. A young American
backpacker (Ricci) traveling through the English village finds herself
involved in a car accident and gladly accepts help from the driver and
her family. The girl begins to hallucinate and believes terrifying strangers
are following her - but are the images from a concussion or a newly
found gift of second sight, both of which might be connected to the church. The
story involves an ancient legend dating back to Christ's crucifixion.
DVD news dvd news dvd news dvd news dvd news DVD news
Available this Month
Mr. and Mrs. Smith
The hit action comedy stars Hollywood's current tabloid king and queen,
Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, as a couple in a tired marriage who learn
it's all a sham -- that they're actually rival assassins whose next target
is each other. The DVD offers some amusing deleted and extended sequences,
especially those featuring co-star Vince Vaughn, who steals his scenes
in a comic-relief role as Pitt's mama's boy associate. Commentary tracks
feature director Doug Liman, the screenwriters and technical crew,
while the DVD has a making-of featurette.
War of the Worlds
Steven Spielberg leaves behind his cuddly "E.T." days for an update
of H.G. Wells' alien-invasion tale starring Tom Cruise as a deadbeat dad
forced to protect his two kids from the monsters. The movie is available
in a bare-bones DVD or a two-disc set with a nice range of extras offering
background on the movie, the classic 1953 version by producer George Pal
and Wells himself. In DVD interviews, Spielberg says the story's time had
come again, with the Sept. 11 attacks adding relevance. Featurettes also
offer comments from Wells' grandson and great-grandson Simon Wells, who
directed the 2002 version of the author's "The Time Machine."
The great ape makes his DVD debut a few weeks ahead of the theatrical
premiere of Peter Jackson's epic update. The 1933 classic stars Fay Wray,
Robert Armstrong and Bruce Cabot as adventurers who discover a giant ape
on a lost island and bring the primate back to Manhattan as a carnival
spectacle. The film is available in a regular two-disc set, a two-disc
collector's edition packed in an embossed metal case or a four-disc set
that includes the sequel "Son of Kong" and the 1949 ape tale "Mighty Joe
Young." The film has been beautifully restored and is accompanied by a
documentary on "Kong" creator Merian C. Cooper and an extensive behind-the-scenes
look at the film and the stop-motion animation that brought the ape to
life. In DVD commentary, stop-motion master Ray Harryhausen offers recollections
on seeing "Kong" as a boy. "Son of Kong,"
"Mighty Joe Young" and "The Last Days of Pompeii," a 1935 disaster
epic from Cooper and "Kong" collaborator Ernest B. Schoedsack, also are
available as single DVDs.
Aeon Flux: The Complete Animated Collection
As Charlize Theron heads into theaters in a live-action version, a
three-disc set offers the full 10 episodes of the animated series about
the anti-hero in a post-apocalyptic future, along with the original "Aeon
Flux" cartoon shorts. Series creator Peter Chung provides commentary.
The Tomorrow People: Set 2
A four-disc set collects all 26 episodes from seasons three through
five of the 1970s British sci-fi series, which follows the adventures of
teens who mark the next stage of evolution with telekinetic and teleportation
Before he was the heavyweight behind "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy
and the upcoming "King Kong" remake, Peter Jackson specialized mainly in
cult horror tinged with black comedy. His 1996 fright flick stars Michael
J. Fox as a con man of a ghostbuster who is partners with the paranormal
pests he's supposedly exterminating -- until he's forced to hunt down a
deadly spirit carrying out a string of murders. The new DVD version has
Jackson's director's cut, incorporating 14 extra minutes of footage.
> Jackson provides an introduction and audio commentary, and he, Fox
and co-stars Trini Alvarado, Dee Wallace Stone, Jake Busey and others offer
comments in interviews. The disc also features a glimpse of Jackson's special-effects
outfit at his New Zealand home base.
This cute family flick stars Michael Angarano as a teen who starts
high school with colossal pressure to succeed, since he's the son
of the world's biggest superheroes (Kurt Russell and Kelly Preston). Only
he's a late-bloomer with no apparent hidden abilities, initially relegated
to the geek squad as a sidekick until his powers assert themselves and
he and his pals take on a super-villain bent on a vengeful plot against
the hero community. Along with an alternate opening and a blooper reel,
the scant DVD extras include a behind-the-scenes featurette, a segment
on the movie's stunts and a music video.
farewellsfarewellsfarewells Good bye farewellsfarewellsfarewells
Jean Carson, 82, an actress who appeared in several Broadway productions
in the late 1940s and 1950s, and later in many television shows and movies,
Born in Charleston, W.Va., she began her acting career on Broadway
in 1948, appearing in George S. Kaufman's Bravo!, which ran for 44 performances.
She also appeared in Bird Cage and Metropole.
Carson played "fun girl" Daphne on The Andy Griffith Show in three
episodes in which she flirted with Sheriff Andy Taylor. She also appeared
on The Red Buttons Show, Ellery Queen, The G.E. Theater, Wagon Train, The
Untouchables and The Twilight Zone.
Her film credits include mad little island, sanctuary, seven keys,
gunn, the party and Fun with Dick and Jane. She was also in ICS favorite
I Married a Monster from Outer Space.
Harold Stone, a character actor who worked steadily from the 1950s through
the 1970s, often portraying the villain on television shows, has died.
He was 92.
He was born Harold Hochstein on March 3, 1913, in New York City. The
third-generation actor made his stage debut at 6 with his father, Jacob
Hochstein (The "J" in his stage name, Harold J. Stone, was for his father).
After graduating from New York University, he studied medicine at the University
of Buffalo during the Depression but was forced to drop out to support
his mother and fell back on acting. He debuted on Broadway, in 1939 and
appeared in four more plays there before making his uncredited film debut
in The Blue Dahlia (1946).
Stone’s television credits include gunsmoke, twilight zone, the untouchables,
the detectives, the voyage to the bottom of the sea, I spy, the rockford
files, barney miller and many others. His films included somebody up there
likes me, spartacus, the greatest story ever told, the st. valentine’s
day massacre, hardly working and ICS favorites the invisible boy and x,
the man with the x-ray eyes.
Noriyuki "Pat" Morita, the comedian and actor who received an Academy
Award nomination for his portrayal of the martial arts instructor, Mr.
Miyagi, in the Karate Kid movies, has died at age 73.
Morita rose to fame in the hit television series Happy Days as Arnold,
the owner of the malt shop where Fonzie and his pals hung out.
After surviving spinal tuberculosis as a child and living with his
family in a relocation camp during WWII, as a young man, Morita found his
calling as a stand up comic in San Francisco. His success as a comedian
finally led to film roles and television.
Some of his films are the shakiest gun in the west, midway, slapstick,
collison course, do or die, miracle beach, and Mulan & Mulan II. Genre
films include when time ran out, timemaster, earth minus zero, Bloodsport
II & III and King Cobra. He also starred in the T.V. shows OHARA and
MR & T AND TINA and guested on many other series
Maurice Zimring, 96, who wrote the story for the 1954 cult classic film
Creature From the Black Lagoon, has died. His screen treatment for Universal
Pictures created the first "Creature" film, which became a three-picture
franchise in the 1950s. He also wrote for the films Jeopardy, the prodigal,
affair in havana and a good day for a hanging.
Keith Andes, an actor with classic movie-star looks who considered playing
Marilyn Monroe's leading man in the 1952 film Clash by Night a highlight
of his 30-year career, has died at age 85.
He was born John Charles Andes on July 12, 1920, in Ocean City, N.J.
By 12, he was appearing on the radio. After attending Oxford University,
he graduated with a bachelor's degree in education from Temple University
in 1943 and studied voice at the Philadelphia Conservatory of Music. Andes
came to Hollywood after studio head Darryl F. Zanuck saw his understudy
performance in the Broadway production of Winged Victory and offered him
a minor part in the 1944 film version. His films include the fARmer’s daughter,
away all boats, model for murder, surrender-hell!, tora! Tora! Tora!, and
and justice for all.
On television he starred as an amateur sleuth in Glynis, a 1963 CBS
sitcom in which Glynis Johns played his wife, and in the syndicated police
drama This Man Dawson from 1959 to 1960. He also made guest appearances
on more than 40 other shows, including ICS favorites the outer limits,
star trek and buck rogers in the 25th century.
Constance Cummings, an American actress who dazzled audiences on both
sides of the Atlantic on stage and in such motion pictures as Movie Crazy
and Blithe Spirit, has died.
Born Constance Halverstadt on May 5, 1910, in Seattle, Cummings was
the daughter of a lawyer and a concert soprano. She studied ballet but
soon switched to acting and made her debut at age 16.
Cummings made her Broadway debut in the chorus line of Treasure Girl
in 1928. She moved quickly to a larger role in The Little Show in 1929
and the lead in This Man's Town in 1930, earning an invitation to Hollywood
from Samuel Goldwyn. After one false start — Goldwyn fired her for poor
acting — she made her film debut as Walter Huston's daughter in Howard
Hawks' 1931 movie The Criminal Code.
Other films included attorney for the defense, channel crossing, glamour,
seven sinners, cyrano de bergerac, this england, the battle of the sexes,
and long day’s journey into night. She was 95.
Herbert L. Strock, a pioneer television producer and director who also
directed B-movie creature features such as riders to the stars, gog, I
was a teenage frankenstein, blood of dracula, how to make a monster, the
crawling hand, devil’s messenger and monster has died. He was 87.
Born in Boston, Strock's introduction to the movie business was as
director of the Fox Newsreel crew, visiting Hollywood stars in their homes.
After serving with the Ordnance Motion Picture Division, he found employment
as an editor at MGM and later moved into the infant medium of TV, producing
and directing The Cases of Eddie Drake, the first-ever network series based
on a motion picture film. He made the transition to feature film directing
in 1953, when (in the midst of production) he took over direction of the
SF thriller The Magnetic Monster from Curt Siodmak. He worked on such early
television series as sky king, I led three lives, science fiction theatre,
meet corliss archer, men in space, cheyenne, highway patrol, maverick,
sea hunt and bonanza.
"He was just a real old-time type of get-it-done Hollywood moviemaker,
who'd just go in knowing what was needed and very efficiently handling
everything," said Tom Weaver, horror and science fiction film writer. "He
always turned the stuff out within schedule and budget, which made him
the producer's darling."
THE LAST WARD . . .
By John Ward
At last, it has come down to this: my choices for the 25 greatest
movies ever made. All in all, it’s kind of ridiculous, isn’t it?
Lists like these are so subjective. There’s really no set criteria
for such an exercise beyond the writer’s own personal tastes. But
I like to think that 47 years of filmgoing have given me a little insight
into what makes a good movie. Here are my Top 25 Films of All Time,
and if you’ve been paying attention the past few months (or if you just
know me pretty well), you should be able to predict at least half of ‘em.
25. THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION (1994)
I came late to the party with SHAWSHANK, but I think nearly everyone
else did, too. It bombed at the box office in its initial release.
Most folks discovered it on video, which led to its eventual deification
on the IMDb. It’s a great character study of prison life, with the
focus on two men: Andy Dufresne, played by Tim Robbins, and Red, played
by Morgan Freeman, who also doubles as the movie’s narrator. (Signing
Freeman as a movie’s narrator should earn bonus points every time.)
Andy is unjustly convicted for his wife’s murder and given a life sentence
in Shawshank Penitentiary, where he becomes friends with Red, another lifer.
Given no prospects and lousy odds, most men would curl up and die, but
not Andy. He never loses hope. The final 30 minutes of the
film fall into place so perfectly that you’re left grasping for comparisons,
of which there are very few. THE STING’s final act comes close, but SHAWSHANK
tops them all.
24. BLAZING SADDLES (1974)
Mel Brooks won an Oscar for the original screenplay of THE PRODUCERS,
but I don’t think that really prepared audiences for this film, his masterpiece:
a send-up of western clichés unmatched for its humor, its cast,
and its wonderful sense of anarchy. Not to mention its total lack
of concern for political correctness. BLAZING SADDLES takes no prisoners,
folks. Cleavon Little, the sassy black sheriff of Rock Ridge (“’Scuse
me while I whip this out”), teams up with Gene Wilder as the drunken Waco
Kid to clean up the town. Well, not really. The plot is an
excuse to roll out one classic scene after another, from the famous campfire
scene (“Can I have some more of those delicious beans, Mr. Taggart?”) all
the way to the gay Busby Berkely number (“That’s the way you do the French
Mistake…voila!”) Of course, bad guy Harvey Korman had the best line:
“Drive me off this picture.” Comic perfection.
23. 12 ANGRY MEN (1957)
The best legal thriller ever made spends all of about maybe 15
seconds in a courtroom, and that happens at the very beginning of 12 ANGRY
MEN. We watch as the judge in a murder trial gives final instructions
to the jurors, who are then led to the jury room. The rest of the
film covers the jury deliberations, which become heated and dramatic.
Henry Fonda, who also produced the film, stars as Juror no. 8, the lone
holdout for acquittal in the initial vote simply because he wants the accused
to get a fair hearing. Lined up against him are a who’s who of character
actors from the ‘50s, every one of them perfectly cast. Especially
good are Lee J. Cobb as Juror no. 3, who has his own reasons for seeing
the accused fry, and E. G. Marshall as Juror no. 4, a button-down type
who logically resists every argument that Fonda throws on the table.
There are moments of keen insight and revelation in 12 ANGRY MEN that are
a pleasure to watch as the jurors reveal more about themselves than one
would think possible in a jury room.
22. THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL (1951)
The ‘50s were a great decade for science fiction movies, and this
one led the way. Michael Rennie plays Klaatu, a being from a distant
galaxy that travels to Earth on a peacekeeping mission and is shot for
his troubles. He decides to study the locals in a more incognito
manner, while bonding with widow Patricia Neal’s young son. And then
there’s Gort, Klaatu’s robot henchman and one of the great iconic figures
of sci-fi cinema. Is he really Klaatu’s assistant, or something more?
THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL was released just as the Cold War was heating
up; its message of non-violence is equally timely today. Director
Robert Wise, who went on to direct such diverse fare as THE HAUNTING, WEST
SIDE STORY, and THE ANDROMEDA STRAIN, is able to turn the tables on us
by making us root for the alien. A classic of science fiction, and
the no. 1 movie in the ICS Hall of Fame, which should count for something.
21. THE ODD COUPLE (1968)
Here’s the other extreme of classic comedy; while BLAZING SADDLES
is all over the place with its cast of a thousand zanies, THE ODD COUPLE
wrings tears of laughter from the two-person conflict at the heart of Neil
Simon’s Broadway smash. The plot is simple: lovable slob Oscar
Madison (sublimely played by Walter Matthau) throws his apartment open
to recently separated neat freak buddy Felix Ungar (the most neurotic performance
of Jack Lemmon’s career.) They share living space, but can’t stand
each other’s quirks. Their resulting clash is a thing of beauty.
My favorite line: “I can’t stand little notes on my pillow, Felix.
‘We’re all out of corn flakes. F.U.’ It took me three hours to figure
out that F.U. was Felix Ungar. It’s not your fault, Felix.
It’s a rotten combination.” But a wonderful comic gem of a movie.
20. THE SEARCHERS (1956)
This is it: hands down, the greatest western ever made.
John Wayne’s Oscar for TRUE GRIT was a long-overdue career thing; THE SEARCHERS
featured his best performance. As gunfighter Ethan Edwards, searching
for his kidnapped niece (a young Natalie Wood), Wayne refuses to allow
his screen persona to gloss over his character’s narrow-minded bigotry
towards Indians. His search becomes a decade-long obsession that
impacts everyone he meets, especially half-breed Jeffrey Hunter, his fellow
searcher. The movie is filmed by director John Ford among the gorgeous
vistas of Arizona’s Monument Valley, Ford’s favorite film location.
It’s a shame that THE SEARCHERS had to be released in 1956, the year
that saw four overstuffed blockbusters nominated for Best Picture:
GIANT, THE KING AND I, THE TEN COMMANDMENTS, and AROUND THE WORLD IN EIGHTY
DAYS, the eventual winner. THE SEARCHERS wasn’t even nominated, and
it wound up topping them all.
19. ALIENS (1986)
The first two ALIEN movies were hard to categorize. Both
movies featured a futuristic outer space setting, the hallmark of many
science fiction movies, but neither film played that way. The first,
ALIEN, was a dynamite haunted house film that just happened to be set in
outer space, with the boogeyman jumping out at the characters when they
least expected it. The sequel, ALIENS, trumped its predecessor in
nearly every way, bypassing the standard rules of the sci-fi genre to put
together one of the greatest pure action movies ever made. Sigourney
Weaver, the lone survivor from the first film, accompanies a troop of Marines
to the planet where the first Alien was discovered, after contact is lost
with a mining colony on that planet. Director James Cameron, fresh
from his spectacular success with the original TERMINATOR, throws hordes
of Aliens at the Marines, and what started out as science fiction becomes
an action-packed war film – albeit one with a surprisingly human core.
Weaver’s Ripley bonds with a little girl, the only human survivor of the
colony, and Weaver goes to extraordinary lengths to ensure her safety.
Which is one reason why ALIEN3 is one of the most hated sequels ever.
But more on that another time.
18. THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK (1980)
A lot of the entries on this list include a phrase on the order
of “The greatest something-or-other ever made,” and I guess we’re coming
down to the end of the line, because I would technically rate this one
just slightly ahead of ALIENS as the greatest sequel ever made. (When
you reach the end of this thing, you might quibble about my choice of phrasing,
but trust me…all will be revealed.) Producer/creator George Lucas
took his STAR WARS fantasy in an entirely unexpected direction with THE
EMPIRE STRIKES BACK; you have to admit, Darth Vader’s announcement at the
climax took us all by surprise. People walked out of the theater
gasping over the possibilities. And this time, we were treated to
three spectacular stories in one: a fierce battle on the snowbound
ice planet Hoth featuring creepy Imperial Walkers, a teacher/student conflict
on swampy Dagobah that introduced the wonderful creation Yoda, and the
final confrontation on the cloud city of Bespin. The first STAR WARS
showed us that George Lucas had an imagination; THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK
showed us that he had a plan.
17. THE WIZARD OF OZ (1939)
What self-respecting movie fan can’t trace their roots back to
an early dosage of THE WIZARD OF OZ? It was on television every year,
and it became so familiar to me that, to this day, I can watch the video
and spot the exact moments they used to break for commercials. But
such a memory cheapens the mystique of OZ, I think. The film was
made at the height of the MGM glory days, when all was right with the studio
system and there were “more stars than there are in the heavens.”
Judy Garland might have been a bit old for the part of Dorothy, that’s
true, but nowadays, it’s impossible to imagine any other voice warbling
Over the Rainbow. The film itself had gloriously colorful sets, memorable
songs, wonderfully comedic performances from the supporting players (Bert
Lahr’s Cowardly Lion was always my favorite), and more than its share of
frights and scares. It’s hard to believe the film was nearly labeled
a money-losing disaster on its initial release. Now, it has passed
16. JAWS (1975)
There is something primal, almost elemental about JAWS that sets
it apart from all other thrillers. Man vs. Nature, one of the most
basic of all conflicts, takes center stage, and while Steven Spielberg
had previously directed one other feature, THE SUGARLAND EXPRESS, it’s
JAWS that people always treat as his breakthrough film. The film
is really two movies in one. The first act plays like an escalating
horror movie, with the locals in an uproar over the town leaders’ inability
to stop a marauding monster. Besides, who can forget that opening
scene? Even though you never see the shark, it still ranks as one
of the most terrifying sequences ever filmed. The second act is a
three-character dynamic as the police chief (Roy Scheider), a marine biologist
(Richard Dreyfuss), and a local fisherman (Robert Shaw in a performance
that steals the film) go off alone on a rickety boat to search for the
shark. All three leads do good work here, but JAWS scores extra points
for being one of those rare films that actually improves upon the source
material, jettisoning a soapy subplot about the scientist’s affair with
the policeman’s wife. Spielberg’s eye, and the audience’s focus,
rests squarely on the thrill of the kill – and the thrill of the hunt for
the killer. I still rank it as his best film.
15. IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE (1946)
When James Stewart returned from his decorated service in World
War II, he knew exactly which director he wanted to help jump-start his
stagnant career: Frank Capra, the homespun-values genius behind Stewart’s
earlier hit, MR. SMITH GOES TO WASHINGTON. They chose a story that
had originally appeared as someone’s Christmas card message, a tale of
lost hope and redemption of the soul unlike any holiday movie seen before.
IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE wasn’t a big hit when it premiered, but thanks to
the rules of “public domain,” the film eventually turned up on every TV
channel at Christmas, and a cult was born. A well-deserved cult,
as it turned out. As George Bailey, a small town Savings & Loan
officer who thinks life has passed him by and who wishes he had never been
born, Stewart is able to run through an incredible range: from wide-eyed,
eager young man to middle-aged, wild-eyed lunatic. It’s clearly his
movie, and he owns it; the performance is flawless. And then there’s
the ending, one of those climaxes that makes grown men shed a tear or two.
14. CASABLANCA (1942)
The classic tale of wartime romance and intrigue gets its due
on my list because of the performances. CASABLANCA scored a major
hit as one of the best examples of the Hollywood studio system at its peak,
with big movie stars supported ably (and in some cases, magnificently)
by a superb supporting cast. Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman, and
Paul Henreid are the stars that form a star-crossed triangle, and the cast
is filled with great names like Claude Rains, Peter Lorre, Conrad Veidt,
Dooley Wilson, and Sydney Greenstreet. Its screenplay is one of the
best, full of quotable lines – the proof was in the film’s representation
on last year’s AFI 100 Quotes list.
13. THE APARTMENT (1960)
I have talked about this movie more than once in this column,
and with good reason: it’s my all-time favorite “surf blocker,” the
movie that always makes me stop clicking whenever I’m mindlessly channel
surfing. No matter what time of day, no matter how far into the movie
I am, no matter how busy I am, no matter what else is going on, if I come
across THE APARTMENT, I stop and watch it until the end. Maybe it’s
because of the chemistry between accountant Jack Lemmon and elevator operator
Shirley Maclaine. Maybe it’s because of Fred MacMurray, the ultimate
TV dad playing one of the screen’s great heels. Maybe it’s because
of Jack Kruschen in a nicely played supporting role as Dr. Dreyfuss, Lemmon’s
neighbor. Maybe it’s because, after 45 years, the film’s appeal is
still there, still timely. THE APARTMENT is one of those movies that
date very well. Now shut up and deal.
12. MONTY PYTHON AND THE HOLY GRAIL (1975)
This is it, my choice for the funniest movie ever made.
The first time I saw HOLY GRAIL was in a college dining hall, surrounded
by Python fans that were a lot more in the know than I was, the perfect
crowd for such a movie. HOLY GRAIL was made on the cheap, the incredibly
cheap, and therein lies part of its charm and humor. You get the
sense that the Pythons were making it up as they went along; the film has
that kind of meandering quality to it, not to mention one of the most jarringly
sudden endings ever. It almost felt like they ran out of money and
had to stop filming. I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if the Pythons
had planned it that way. Each member of the famed comedy troupe plays
at least half a dozen different roles, some of them barely recognizable,
all of them hilarious. The plot is very loosely based on the King
Arthur legend about the search for the Holy Grail, with familiar names
like Galahad and Lancelot, but since these are the Pythons, you’ve also
got Sir Robin, a coward whose minstrel has an uncomfortable habit of singing
about his cowardice. You’ve got the Knights Who Say Ni, who will
only be appeased by a shrubbery. You’ve got the Holy Hand Grenade.
You’ve got the Black Knight, who never stops fighting, no matter how many
body parts he loses (It’s just a flesh wound. Come on back and fight,
you pansy!) You’ve got so many visual jokes around the edges that
it takes several viewings just to get them all. And finally, you’ve got
a very funny movie.
11. REAR WINDOW (1954)
Most folks would rank this film with NORTH BY NORTHWEST as one
of the most commercially enjoyable films Alfred Hitchcock ever directed,
but I will go one giant step further and state that, for my money, old
Hitch never directed a better film. James Stewart (again) plays L.B.
Jeffries, a news photographer laid up in his sweltering Manhattan apartment
with a broken leg, whose boredom drives him to spy on his fellow tenants
in the neighboring buildings. With one major exception at the climax,
the entire film is shot from Stewart’s point of view in his apartment,
and we see what Stewart sees, which includes one of the most incredibly
intricate stage sets ever built for a film. Hitchcock’s point is
that we are all voyeurs at heart, especially those of us who sit in dark
movie theaters, and once in a while we have to pay the price for that curiosity.
Grace Kelly, at her most beautiful, plays Stewart’s naïve-but-interested
fashion designer girlfriend, Thelma Ritter is marvelous as Stewart’s sarcastic
nurse, and a white-haired Raymond Burr is properly malevolent as the guy
across the way who Stewart is convinced has murdered his wife. Look
for the director’s famous cameo in the composer’s apartment. (Trivia
note: the guy who plays the composer, Ross Bagdasarian, was the brains
(?) behind Alvin and the Chipmunks.)
10. THE ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD (1938)
Michael Curtiz’ masterpiece of derring-do and colorful spectacle
has to be one of the most exciting adventure movies ever, filmed long before
the evolution of computer-generated special effects, where everything seems
possible. With ROBIN HOOD, everything was possible, because you watched
in awe as professional stunt men threw themselves around castle sets with
wild abandon and great enthusiasm, complemented by Erich Wolfgang Korngold’s
stirring musical score. Errol Flynn’s Robin Hood is one of the great
icons of adventure cinema, and along with Captain Blood, became Flynn’s
signature role. He is matched once again with Olivia De Havilland,
his best screen partner, as Maid Marian, and together they make one of
the screen’s most memorable romantic couples. I was lucky enough
to see this film years ago on the big screen at the Senator Theater, and
I encourage everyone to take that opportunity if it ever presents itself
again. Failing that, I recommend Warner Bros.’ 2-disc special edition
DVD, with a wealth of extra features. You won’t be sorry.
9. STAR WARS (1977)
Earlier this year, I did a column about the STAR WARS phenomenon,
and at the time I think I rated THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK as the best in
the series. I keep flip-flopping between EMPIRE and the original,
but now I’m thinking George Lucas’ first, seminal outer space adventure
deserves the credit for starting it all on the proper footing. Old
pros like Alec Guinness and Peter Cushing give way to new stars Mark Hamill
and Harrison Ford, and we’re introduced to Darth Vader, one of the greatest
(and, ultimately, one of the most tragic) screen villains ever created.
Lucas packs his movie with all sorts of visual delights, creating an entirely
new “galaxy far, far away…” I got the same rush watching STAR WARS that
I got when I read Watership Down and The Lord of the Rings, that exciting
thrill of discovering a whole new world for the first time, replete with
its own mythology, geography, religion, and history. The only difference
was that we just didn’t know at the time how far Lucas was going to take
us. Now that the ride is over, we can sit back and marvel at his
8. CITIZEN KANE (1941)
Orson Welles’ CITIZEN KANE is unique on this list because I don’t
get as much pure enjoyment or entertainment out of it as I do with any
of the other films in my top 25. But that doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate
the film for its incredible craft, light years ahead of anything else Hollywood
was putting out in 1941. There isn’t a single truly likable character
in the entire movie, at least not one you would want to spend any time
getting to know. Certainly not Charles Foster Kane, played by Welles
as a thinly veiled impression of media mogul William Randolph Hearst.
The movie cut so close to the bone that Hearst tried to keep it from getting
released, to no avail. Welles, a 26-year-old cinema wunderkind (about
the age Spielberg was when he directed JAWS), laughed off the threats.
A good thing, too, because students of cinema would have missed out on
a veritable 2-hour film school. We would have missed Gregg Toland’s
superior cinematography, his absolutely flawless sense of camera angles
and positioning; we would have missed one of the most cynical screenplays
yet written, as well as a cast of theatrical players who were new to the
camera lens. And every time I find myself wishing Welles could have
taken a lighter tone with his material, I realize it would have been impossible.
Welles stayed faithful to his vision, and movie lovers are the better for
7. PULP FICTION (1994)
PULP FICTION arrived like a hammer stroke to the movie-going subconscious.
Quentin Tarantino’s follow-up to his debut feature, RESERVOIR DOGS, was
one of those very rare sophomore efforts that lived up to – no, exceeded
– the promise of its predecessor. The moves that Tarantino used to
such incredible effect in DOGS were on display again. The script
was impossibly verbose, and in different hands, might have lost the audience.
But verbosity can occasionally be its own reward, if the words are strong,
clear, colorful, and consistently fascinating. I never tire of listening
to the characters speak; every time I watch PULP FICTION, I hear something
new. Tarantino’s screenplay is dense, the story intricate.
The plot structure is insane genius; you have to be a real fan to understand
why the movie ends before it begins, so to speak. Characters float
in and out and back in again, and when they meet, they usually collide
in a storm of profanity, violence, and just plain emotional dynamite.
John Travolta resurrected his career for the umpteenth time playing Vincent
Vega, one member of a two-man hit squad trying to finish a job. His
partner is Samuel L. Jackson, who has the climactic speech about being
the shepherd. Then there’s Bruce Willis, a boxer who runs afoul of
Travolta’s boss after refusing to throw a fight. And let’s not forget
Uma Thurman as the boss’ wife, a sexy number with a nasty coke habit.
PULP FICTION has these folks and a whole lot more; it was the best film
to come out of the ‘90s.
6. MR. SMITH GOES TO WASHINGTON (1939)
This movie is the main reason why I like to name-drop about my
roots – the fact that James Stewart and I came from the same small town
in Pennsylvania. It was the movie that truly put Stewart on the map
as a major movie star, playing Jefferson Smith, a young and idealistic
man who is drafted to fill a senator’s seat in Congress after the incumbent
suddenly dies. Stewart’s Smith is flattered and eager to get to work,
especially under the guidance of white-haired Claude Rains, playing the
senior senator from the state. What Stewart is too naïve to
understand is that he’s a patsy, drafted as a “yes man” for the machine
run back home by Rains and tycoon Edward Arnold. Once in Washington,
Stewart turns out to be not as dumb as Rains and Arnold figured, and when
a freshman bill sponsored by Stewart threatens to ruin Arnold’s plans back
home, the stage is set for a political confrontation like no other.
The script for MR. SMITH is one of the sharpest, most biting, and most
truthful ever written for the movies; the fact that its targets are Washington
politicos is just icing on the cake. MR. SMITH GOES TO WASHINGTON
is the only film in my top ten that I don’t personally own, partly because
I keep hoping they might do one of those special edition DVDs someday.
For now, I’m more than content to watch it every time it pops up on TCM.
It’s probably the best movie ever made to deal with what’s wrong – and
right – about America.
5. SEVEN SAMURAI (1954)
Akira Kurasawa’s masterpiece of action and adventure is such an
enjoyable movie that people often forget it’s a great character study,
too. Let’s face it, this film isn’t 3 ½ hours long for nothing,
folks. The first hour or so is spent watching the principals come
together, and Kurasawa makes sure that we understand each character’s quirks,
habits, and motivations. The plot is simple: a poor village
recruits seven unemployed samurai warriors to protect them against the
mountain bandits who invade their village every year. Toshiro Mifune
became an international star partly because of his role here, playing Kikuchiyo,
the brashest and most impulsive of the samurai. But my favorite character
is Shimada, the samurai leader, played with quiet strength by Takashi Shimura.
At the end of the film, when the battle is over and the dead have been
counted, it is Shimada who understands the truth: the village farmers
are the winners, not the samurai. SEVEN SAMURAI was the direct inspiration
for John Sturges’ classic western, THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN, which is fitting,
since Kurasawa often acknowledged American westerns as one of his inspirations.
Kurasawa’s work over the decades has inspired everyone from Sturges to
Sergio Leone to George Lucas to Steven Spielberg. It’s a testament
to his skill as one of the finest directors in movie history.
4. TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD (1962)
I was a little surprised when the AFI tabbed Gregory Peck’s portrayal
of Atticus Finch as the greatest hero in movie history a few years back,
but once the surprise wore off, I remember thinking, Of course! Who
else could it have been? The beauty of Peck’s understated performance
is that he reveals so much about himself without the advantage of being
the movie’s true voice. That honor falls to Mary Badham as Scout
Finch, they younger of Atticus’ two children. The film (as well as
the wonderful novel on which it is based) is told as a simple memory story;
we see events unfold through a 30-year haze, as a grown-up Scout recalls
the two childhood summers that shaped her life. Atticus Finch is
a widower struggling to raise his two precocious children in Depression-era
Alabama, while simultaneously struggling to defend a black man unjustly
accused of raping a white woman. The courtroom scene is a highlight;
the viewer watches and listens as Peck delivers one of the most impassioned
defenses you ever heard, and you smile because you know he’s right.
But a frown creeps in around the edges when you realize we’re talking about
Depression-era Alabama. My favorite moment, mentioned in this column
before, comes when Peck leaves the courtroom for the final time.
All of the blacks in the balcony stand in silent tribute to his actions;
it’s one of the most solemnly memorable moments in movie history.
Universal recently released an outstanding 2-disc DVD of TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD,
featuring several documentaries, including a feature-length Conversation
with Gregory Peck. If you don’t have it in your collection, this
version is definitely the one to own. When people talk about “coming
of age” stories, the argument begins and ends with TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD.
3. KING KONG (1933)
My fondest “time machine” wish as a moviegoer – you know the kind
of wish I’m talking about, the one that begins “If I could only go back…”
– would be to sit in the audience at Radio City Music Hall in 1933 (or
Grauman’s Chinese, either one) and experience the original KING KONG with
no prior conceptions whatsoever. What a mindblower that must have
been for folks back then! Even today, over 70 years later, I am enthralled
with the innocent magic of Willis O’Brien’s stop-motion animation.
There are some parts of the film that date badly; the dialogue is hoary
and old-fashioned, there is almost zero chemistry between the two romantic
leads (and I’m not talking about the big ape, either), and the racial stereotyping
on Skull Island is – well, a product of 1933, to put it as neatly as possible.
But as fantasy/horror films go, KING KONG is without peer. Watching
the film again on DVD, I am struck by the incredible number of special
effects shots in the film. There’s so much to see: the ship
crew’s run-in with the stegosaurus, Kong’s battles with the T-Rex, the
giant snake, and the pterodactyl, Kong shaking the sailors off the log,
and finally, the long sequence in New York. Compared to this buffet
of treats, is it any wonder that the 1976 remake suffers so badly in comparison?
(I seem to remember Rick Baker in a monkey suit swinging a giant snake
around for a moment or two, but that’s it.) KING KONG is one of those
times when I allow myself to tune out the dialogue and just watch the pretty
pictures, because even the pictures can tell a powerful story.
2. THE GODFATHER (1972)
THE GODFATHER adds new meaning to the phrase “family film.”
It’s another of those rare films (JAWS would be another) that improves
upon its source – in this case, Mario Puzo’s potboiler bestseller about
the Mafia. Francis Ford Coppola took the most interesting part of
the novel – the family dynamic of the Corleones – and built a towering
crime saga. The film resurrected the career of Marlon Brando and
jump-started the careers of Al Pacino, James Caan, Diane Keaton, and Robert
Duvall. (Although Duvall holds the distinction of being the only
actor to show up twice in my top 5 – he was Boo Radley in TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD.)
Brando’s performance is the powerful bedrock, but Pacino’s role is truly
the keystone that makes the movie work. It’s almost as if he feeds
off Brando’s energy, so that when young Michael Corleone is ready to take
over the family business – and I don’t mean olive oil – he channels his
father’s ruthlessness as well as his drive. Gordon Willis’ cinematography
is sumptuously rich, yet uniformly dark, an interesting combination.
Two key sequences – the wedding scene that opens the film, and Michael’s
exile to Sicily – are drenched in sunlight; it’s no surprise that they
represent the happiest moments in the film. The rest of the picture
is full of chocolatey browns and deep, shadowy blacks, symbolic of the
looming violence that waits in the background of nearly every scene.
The Corleones live in an incredibly violent world, an almost alien world
of strange codes and brutal vengeance. The fact that director Coppola
is able to humanize the men behind the codes is a key to the movie’s appeal.
THE GODFATHER is the best American film ever made.
And then there was one…or should I say three?
1. THE LORD OF THE RINGS TRILOGY (2001 – 2003)
I have to think that my all-time favorite film must be one of
the most unsurprising of surprises. Let’s face it – if you know me,
then you knew this was coming. If there’s any surprise to be had,
it’s that I’m shoehorning three films into one slot. But when you
understand that I no longer look upon Peter Jackson’s fantasy masterpiece
as three separate movies, but instead as one giant epic, it becomes no
surprise at all. THE LORD OF THE RINGS – released separately as THE
FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING, THE TWO TOWERS, and the Oscar-winning THE RETURN
OF THE KING – represents everything that I love about movies. It
has an outstanding ensemble cast, all of whom have their moments to shine
during the course of the story. It has a wonderfully deep plot, yet
one that is surprisingly easy to follow, given the huge roll call of characters.
It has cinematography that extols the virtues of director Jackson’s native
New Zealand without ever losing sight of its fantasy roots. It has
special effects that are unmatched for spectacle and imagination, from
the single CGI creation Gollum, to the groundbreaking computer program
that masterminded the sweeping battlefield scenes. It has one of
the most majestic and varied musical scores in recent memory. And
it has the creative stamp of Peter Jackson himself, who has carved his
niche as the best director of “character-driven epics” working today.
Like no other director before or since, Jackson has been successful at
combining the scope and sweep of the “epic” film with the individual characters
who make the smaller films vibrate, hum, and move. This is what makes
THE LORD OF THE RINGS unique among movies.
And there you have it, folks. Four months in the making,
with a cast of thousands. Now, if you’ll pardon me, I’m going to
go get in line to see what the director of my all-time favorite film has
done to my third all-time favorite film. To say that I’m a tad curious
would be to court the wrath of the God of Understatement. See you
ICS CALENDER –the Month in review!
Dec 2nd Aeon Flux
Dec 9th The Chronicles of Narnia - The Lion,
the Witch and the Wardrobe.
Dec 14th KING KONG
Dec 17th ICS MEETING – 5:30pm
The annual Yankee Swap. Bring amovie related gift only with a limit
of $25 and a receipt attached. Gift cards and ICS memberships are
Jan 6th 2006 The Gathering
January 7th 2006 KING KONG at the Senator with ICS!
Sign up soon!