The Official Newsletter of The Imaginative Cinema Society
The love of many, the work of a few....

December 2005  #83

 
 
TABLE OF CONTENTS

CLUB NEWS  
Read ALL The Club News

TV NEWS

MOVIE NEWS

Dava’s Delvings

MUST SEE MOVIES 

DVD NEWS

FAREWELLS

THE LAST WARD

ICS CALENDER
Post it on the fridge!


Editor-Betsy Childs 
Staff Writers- Regina Vallerani, 
Mike Laird, Jim Childs, 
Joe Plempel, John Ward, 
Dava Sentz, Andrew Kent

 
 
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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 IMDB:
 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 video games!

* 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: 
Betsy Childs
Jim Childs
Andrew Kent
Joe Plempel
Norman Jones & Guest
Regina Vallerani
Beth Vaught
Steve Vaught
Dave Willard

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: 
Jim Childs
Andrew Kent
Joe Plempel
John Ward
Dave Willard

DUES NEWS
    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 Mason co-stars. 
•William Hurt (The Village) headlines "Battleground," playing the killer of a toymaker who receives a package of toy soldiers that aren't the usual playthings. 
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 the cast. 
A Thanksgiving podcast will go live on Nov. 24, featuring supervising producers/writers Javier Grillo-Marxuach and Leonard Dick, with commentary for "Collision." 
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 girls had!) 

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 between takes. 
"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. 
 
ALIAS ENDING
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. 
 

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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 of SINBAD.

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 night.”

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 2006.
     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 death. 

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.
 
 

DAVA’S DELVINGS

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 young adults.   
   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."

King Kong
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 powers.
The Frighteners
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.

Sky High
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, has died.
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 into legend.

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 imagination.
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 it.

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 next month!
 
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 great choices.
 

Jan 6th  2006    The Gathering
 

January 7th  2006   KING KONG at the Senator with ICS!  Sign up soon!