A New Look for the ICS Files
By Betsy Childs
As Editor and general cut and paster of this monthly newsletter,
I am going to discuss some of the changes that will be coming. We
have had a wonderful rotating staff here and it has made for some interesting
articles, reviews and news briefs. They have been enjoyed by us all.
The writings and reviews from many of the members has, in my opinion, been
the heart of the newsletter.
In keeping with that, ICS Files is going to be aiming
more for even more member participation and less for news. The TV
and Movie news sections will basically be combined into one unit with news
about both. This will help me in getting the issues out a little
faster and open the pages up for some new information. I was thinking about
it when we received our Entertainment Weekly and I realized that most of
us already know what is happening in the movies and the TV / Movie news
is basically a rehash…and often a late news release. I would like
to keep this information, but in a smaller format because there are some
who have mentioned that ICS Files is their form of movie news.
What I would like to put in that place, will be our own
ICS members thoughts in the form of movie reviews, personal views on the
horror and science fiction genres and what is happening in their home theatre,
TV set or visits to the theatre. I will be emailing individuals and
asking for some thoughts. Don’t be surprised if you get an email
from me asking about something you may have a focus on. Be prepared
John, to tell us all the abundant trivia from King Kong, or Gary to talk
about collecting or Andrew about Zombie movies.
I am hoping to get some more member awareness and involvement
and get let us all know each other a little better through our love for
the cinema. Please realize that giving us some trivia or cinema stories
on your favorite films, may get us interested to go watch them. And that,
in my mind is the core of our club. The love of the movies and the sharing
of them with our friends. I hope you will enjoy and hope even more
that you will help out when your email arrives.
The Imaginative Cinema Society celebrated its
8th anniversary with a discussion “down memory lane,” led by club president
Dave Willard. Club members shared their stories of the past eight
years. Members also dug into the traditional “anniversary cookie,”
this time in the shape of an 8.
DARK SHADOWS – THE TV SHOW
Rick Arnold gave a presentation on the cult
TV show DARK SHADOWS, which included a video interview with creator Dan
Curtis. Rick and fellow club member Dave Henderson pooled their resources
to set up an interesting memorabilia display.
DARK SHADOWS was a daytime television soaper-shocker
serial that originally aired on ABC from 1966-71. In addition to
its Gothic tales involving the supernatural, what set DARK SHADOWS apart
from the other TV soap operas of its day was the remarkable cast, including
famous and glamorous Hollywood screen star Joan Bennett (SUSPIRIA) as the
aristocratic matriarch Elizabeth Collins Stoddard, Oscar-nominated actress
Grayson Hall (THE NIGHT OF THE IGUANA) as Dr. Julia Hoffman, who tried
to develop a cure for vampire Barnabas Collins but wound up falling in
love with him instead, and, of course, the superb Jonathan Frid as reluctant
vampire Barnabas Collins. Made on a noticeably low budget, DARK SHADOWS
concentrated on plot and character rather than cheap thrills, though there
were plenty of eerie, spooky moments and a creepy Gothic atmosphere.
The primetime revival of the ever-popular series in 1991 featured more
elaborate settings and special effects but was less successful and lasted
barely two months on the airwaves. The show's success led to two
offshoot feature films starring a number of the series regulars. The first
and most successful was HOUSE OF DARK SHADOWS in 1970, followed by NIGHT
OF DARK SHADOWS in 1971.
Some DARK SHADOWS Trivia:
• For more than a year and a half the characters of
"Dark Shadows" used almost every possible phrase to refer to Barnabas Collins
("He's not alive!" "He's one of the undead." "He walks at night but he
ain't alive.") It wasn't until the 410th episode that the word "vampire"
was actually used on the show.
• Ranked #19 in TV Guide's list of the "25 Top Cult
Shows Ever!" (30 May 2004 issue).
• The role of Dr. Julia Hoffman was actually originally
supposed to be "Julian" Hoffman, and portrayed by a man. In the first episode
in which this character is mentioned (before she appeared on-screen), Dr.
Hoffman is specifically referred to as a "he" and "one of the finest men
I know." Before the role was cast however, a character description was
typed up and the name "Julian" became "Julia" because of a typo. Producer
Dan Curtis decided to change the gender on a whim, only after he noticed
• The role of Dr. Julia Hoffman, played by Grayson
Hall, was only supposed to last a few weeks, but Hall's husband, Sam Hall,
was a head writer for the show and eventually made a star out of the character.
• Since the show was canceled rather suddenly, viewers
never learned Barnabas' fate. But according to one of the writers, here's
what they had planned: Barnabas was going to marry his doctor, Julia Hoffman,
and move to Asia, where she would eventually discover a cure for his vampirism.
• Jonathan Frid didn't pose for the famous portrait
of him that hung in Collinwood. The line producer, Robert Costello, did.
The face was left blank until the actor was hired. The portrait was the
last image ever shown on the last episode.
• The first time Jonathan Frid appeared on Dark Shadows,
he was so nervous that he put his fangs in upside down and chewed them
• The interior of the Collinswood mansion was actually
built in a studio in New York City. The exterior was a real house, but
it wasn't in Maine-it was in Newport, Rhode Island.
• Kathryn Leigh Scott was one of the first people
hired for the show. A screen test was shot of her wearing a filmy, ghostlike
costume-and it was later used on the air, with the explanation that she
was the ghost of Josette Collins. They didn't let it die there. When Barnabas
was introduced, it was further explained that Josette was his long-lost
love, and Scott played that part when the storyline jumped back to the
year 1795. They had her coming and going, so to speak.
• Barnabas always carried a silver wolf-head cane.
It later revealed there was a sword inside, which came in handy in certain
• Barnabas gave a music box to Josette as token of
his love, and somehow, through the centuries, he always manages to have
it on hand when he falls in love again (usually with someone he sees as
• The portrait of Angelique was invested with certain
powers, and when something happened to her, it faded and cracked. When
her life was restored, the portrait was restored.
• Quentin Collins' portrait was the ultimate: they
were doing Dorian Grey. He didn't age, the portrait did; and any injuries
he suffered happened to the portrait instead.
• The one of Barnabas was usually in the foyer at
Collinwood, and the camera would pan mysteriously to it when something
ominous was about to happen (accompanied by eerie music)
Thanks, Rick, for that entertaining look at a
show that many of us remember watching – either after work or after school!
And thanks Rick and Dave, for sharing your memorabilia with us!
DARK SHADOWS – THE CINEMA EVENT
Subsequently, the club screened HOUSE OF DARK
SHADOWS. It follows the adventures of vampire Barnabas Collins.
Recently unleashed from his coffin by local drunk, Willie Loomis, the Barnabas
goes on a killing spree, while at the same time charming his present day
family members. In the process he meets local girl Maggie Evans and
notices that she looks exactly like his deceased fiancé, Josette.
Barnabas assumes that she is the reincarnation of Josette, and plans to
make him his unholy bride for eternity because, after all, that’s what
NEW YEAR – NEW BOARD
The annual election was unanimous. Because
Jim Childs had to renounce his candidacy due to work obligations, the five
remaining candidates were all given board member status. Ladies and
Gentlemen, your 2007 ICS Board consists of:
Andrew Kent Joe Plempel Mike Schilling
John Ward Dave Willard
Congratulations to all new board members – we
all appreciate your efforts to steer the club and hope to help out wherever
Along with the other fun January events, comes
the annual audit of our books. Jeanne Matcovich and Betsy Childs
graciously volunteered to look over last year’s income and expenses and
validate the ledger balance to the bank balance. As expected, everything
was in tip-top shape, thanks to our treasurer, Andrew Kent. Thanks
Jeanne and Betsy for taking time from the meeting to help with the audit.
THIS ‘N’ THAT FROM THE BUSINESS MEETING
Dave Willard talked about an idea for “quickie
trips”: short-notice announcements of movie get-togethers, with admission
paid for by the club. We will try to vary the location of the get-together
sites. The board sees this as another way to foster camaraderie among club
Dave Willard proposed an idea for “Frame by
Frame”: ICS members would take a night to discuss one movie in depth, along
with that movie’s screening. This would be an opportunity to tear into
the film, supplying lots of trivia and background info on the movie. This
has already been tried successfully with films like THE MOST DANGEROUS
New food choices available to club members –
Rick Smith brought in a hot dog machine, and Tom Proveaux talked up the
recently opened Great American Sandwiches restaurant at the entrance to
the parking lot.
Dave Willard talked about a “Sci-FiPedia” entry
on the ICS as a “building block” of promotion for the club. Dave asked
club members to provide content directly on the Sci-FiPedia’s ICS entry.
TOP 100 GENRE MOVIES
John Ward is compiling a Top 100 Genre Movies
for our 100th meeting in April 2007. He will be accepting lists until
our March 2007 meeting, so please email him with your list ASAP at JOHN5509@COMCAST.NET.
And if you don’t feel like listing 100 movie titles, you can do as little
as 5 or as much as 99 – he will count ‘em all.
100TH MEETING TREAT!
The board announced a special surprise to commemorate
the upcoming 100th meeting: a field trip to the new Geppi’s Entertainment
Museum at Camden Yards. The field trip will take place on Saturday,
April 7th. All club members in good standing (with paid-up dues)
will receive free admission, compliments of the club’s treasury.
An exact time has not been decided, but we hope to gather at another place,
such as a Light Rail stop, and ride to the museum together. (This will
relieve parking woes.)
The date was selected to take advantage of the Orioles’ out-of-town schedule.
A sign-up sheet was passed around. Thus far, 19 people have committed
to attending. The March meeting is the final time that you can sign-up
for the field trip.
Let’s give a round of applause to The Board
for thinking up such a fun treat!!
John Ward announced the club's 6th annual Oscars
Pool, with ballots available to all club members. Interested members are
encouraged to complete their ballots available from John, or online at
Oscars.com, and send them to John via email, or else bring them to the
February meeting, the last deadline for accepting ballots. Participation
in the pool is $5 per ballot (please remit to Andrew Kent) – the winner
gets half of the final kitty.
NEWS OF OUR NEXT MEETING –LAST SATURDAY IN JANUARY
Our next meeting will be held on Saturday February
24th 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.
FEBRUARY PRESENTATION – HAUNTED HOUSE MOVIES
Sam DiBlasi wants to give us the chills with
a presentation on Haunted House Movies. And heck, if it gets really
scary, remember that we are meeting next to a church – there’s a pastor,
plenty of holy water and religious paraphernalia to frighten away any ghosts
– unless of course, the church was built on an ancient Indian burial ground…
then we’re just out of luck.
FEBRUARY LATE NIGHT MOVIE
February is a second feature night. There
is no feature chosen at this time, so bring in your favorites and we will
vote at the next meeting.
This is just a reminder that dues
expire on New Year's Day with an additional grace period until March 31,
2007. 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 Andrew Kent at meetings or sent
via paypal to ICSFILM@HOTMAIL.COM or mailed to Andrew at:
5025 Green Mountain Circle Apt 6
Columbia, MD 21044
All Checks should be payable to ‘ICS’ or ‘Imaginative
The following members have paid their dues. If
you are missing from this list, please contact Andrew.
Rick Arnold Betsy Childs Jim
Vince DiLeonardi Sam DiBlasi Heather
Tim Fleming James Gernert
Norman Jones Andrew Kent Mike
Jeanne Matcovich Tom Noll Skip Phillips
Joe Plempel Norman Prentiss Justin
Tom Proveaux Robin Richards Gary
Lisa Schilling Mike Schilling
Richard Smith Courtney Spies Jack
Regina Vallerani Teeka Vallerani Beth
Steve Vaught Neil Wagenfer
John Ward (son) John Weber Dave
LOOK AHEAD – ICS 2007 SCHEDULE
Feb 24 (*) Haunted House Movies, presented by Sam DiBlasi
March 31 Son of No-Stinkers Night, presented by John
April 7 Field Trip to Geppi Museum at Camden Yards
April 21 (*) 100th Meeting & Top 10 Genre
Movies as picked by the club
May 26 ICS Cookout
June 30 (*)
August 25 (*)
October 27 (*) Greg Mank Returns; Halloween
Potluck Dinner & All-Nighter
December 29 (*) Yankee Swap
(*) denotes Late Night Feature
BATTLESTAR UP FOR SEASON 4
SCI FI Channel announced
that it has renewed its Peabody-winning original series Battlestar Galactica,
ordering 13 new episodes. Production will resume this summer in Vancouver,
Canada, with an eye toward a January 2008 premiere.
The decision comes
after the series' successful move to a new 10 p.m. timeslot on Sundays.
Since moving, Battlestar Galactica's audience has grown over its third-season
average by 8 percent in total viewers, by double digits in female viewers,
by 19 percent in the show's target demographic of adults aged 18-49 and
by 14 percent in adults 25-54. The Jan. 28 episode, "Taking a Break From
All Your Worries," delivered 2.5 million total viewers and 1.6 million
adults 18-49, the largest audience for any episode since the season-two
thrilled to bring Battlestar back for another season," Mark Stern, SCI
FI's executive vice president of programming, said. "This series has delivered
on every level, from the writing to the acting to the production values.
SCI FI is proud to be the home of the best show on television."
"While we never had any doubt that SCI FI would get behind a fourth season
of Battlestar, it's thrilling to finally make it official, and for Ron
and I to continue using this great genre to investigate the darker corners
of society, politics and humanity," executive producer David Eick said.
GEEK JOY DRIVES SCI-FI BOYS
Paul Davids, who wrote and
directed the two-hour documentary The Sci-Fi Boys, said that he got in
touch with his childhood love of special-effects movies for the special.
The documentary—which features interviews with filmmakers Peter Jackson,
Steven Spielberg and George Lucas, among others—makes its TV debut on SCI
FI Channel at 11 p.m. ET/PT on Feb. 7.
"I think the first [goal]
was to capture a moment in my own childhood, which was one of the most
magic times I can remember and which was an experience that was shared
by other kids across the country," Davids said. "It was a time when special
effects were very new."
The documentary looks
at the work of such special-effects wizards as Rick Baker and Dennis Muren,
as well as directors such as Stephen Sommers, and recounts how they were
influenced by film historian Forrest J. Ackerman and his magazine, Famous
Monsters of Filmland, as well as by special-effects pioneer Ray Harryhausen.
Famous Monsters "was
a 35-cent, black-and-white newsprint magazine with lots of pictures of
monsters and spacemen and special effects and very funny quips about all
this, all at the mentality of 10- or 12-year-old boys," Davids said. "Because
of this, so many kids in my generation got to using their 8-millimeter
home-movie cameras to make their own movies, their own productions of flying
saucers and mummies and Dracula and dinosaurs and spacemen. And I found
that a lot of the kids from that group at that moment in time, from the
late 1950s to the early 1960s, became some of the biggest names in the
world of special effects and science fiction movies. So part of my motivation
was to capture that moment in time."
goal was pay tribute to Ackerman, Harryhausen and SF author Ray Bradbury
while they are still around. "A lot of the heroes of our youth are really
getting on in years," Davids said. "Forrest recently turned 90 years old.
When I started working with him on The Sci-Fi Boys, I think he must have
been around 85. Two of his best friends from the early days, Ray Harryhausen
and Ray Bradbury, are also now in their late 80s. I wanted to make an homage
to them that really gave them the credit I felt they deserved for having
launched the cinema of imagination that involved science fiction and special
effects and that became this billion-dollar business that we have now.
All of this was the story I wanted to tell."
MEDIUM IS BROTHER-SISTER ACT
"I was always a bossy
little girl, and being David's older sister, I've bossed him around quite
a bit," Arquette said. "Now that he'll be directing me it will be payback
will soon be taking orders from her little brother when David Arquette
directs an episode of NBC's hit supernatural drama Medium.
“I think it will be really
interesting being directed by David, because he knows me so well and I
feel so safe with him. I think I'll be able to go to some of my darkest
David Arquette recently
directed his first feature film, The Tripper, which is being released in
U.K.'s RYAN IS BIONIC WOMAN
After an exhaustive
search, NBC has chosen British actress Michelle Ryan for the lead role
of Jamie Sommers in its upcoming Bionic Woman pilot. The network reported
it considered better-known stars, but ultimately went with someone who'll
be a newcomer to most American viewers.
Ryan is known in the
United Kingdom for having spent five years on the long-running BBC serial
ECKHART IS KNIGHT’S DENT
Aaron Eckhart (Paycheck)
is in final negotiations to play Harvey Dent/Two Face in The Dark Knight,
Warner Brothers Pictures' sequel to Batman Begins.
In Batman lore, Dent is the
district attorney of Gotham City and an ally of Batman. After half his
face is disfigured by acid, Dent becomes the insane crime boss known as
Two Face. He chooses to do good or evil by flipping a coin. Tommy Lee Jones
played the character in 1995's Batman Forever.
Christopher Nolan is
back in the director's chair, with Christian Bale reprising his role as
Bruce Wayne/Batman. Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine and Gary Oldman are also
returning. Heath Ledger joined the cast last summer, signing up to play
the sardonic and murderous villain the Joker.
HUSTON VAMPS IN 30 DAYS
Danny Huston, who plays the
villainous vampire Marlow in the upcoming film 30 Days of Night, said that
he began to live the bloodsucker's life while shooting in New Zealand last
year. "We shot a lot at night, and it was perfect: When you're playing
a vampire, night is just right," Huston said when at the premiere of his
new film, The Number 23. "When I'd be driving home in the morning, and
the sun would rise, I'd be like, 'Ahh! Ooh!' [cowers] 'No sunlight!' I
felt what a nightmare and how delicate vampires must be. I felt sorry for
In 30 Days of Night, based on Steve
Niles' graphic novel of the same name, Huston is one of a band of vamps
who descend on the Alaskan town of Barrow at the start of winter, when
the sun sets and doesn't come up for weeks.
"It's quite a thrilling vampire
story," Huston said. "It takes place over a period of time where there's
only nighttime, which is a perfect feeding time for vampires like me”.
. The movie of 30 Days of Night is slated
for release Oct. 19.
ECCLESTON JOINS DARK CAST
(Heroes) and Gregory Smith have joined the cast of The Dark Is Rising,
20th Century Fox and Walden Media's adaptation of Susan Cooper's best-selling
fantasy books. Marc Platt and Ron Schmidt are producing the picture, which
is being helmed by David L. Cunningham.
Dark tells the story
of a teenager (newcomer Alexander Ludwig) who learns that he is the last
of a group of warriors who have dedicated their lives to fighting the forces
of the dark. Traveling back and forth through time, he hunts for clues
while encountering the forces of evil and discovers that the future of
the world rests in his hands.
Eccleston (Doctor Who)
is playing the movie's villain, the Rider. Smith is playing the teen's
older brother, an edgy young man with piercings and tattoos who questions
their father's authority.
Also in the cast are
Amelia Warner (Aeon Flux), Emma Lockhart (Batman Begins), Gary Entin, Edmund
Entin, Jonathan Jackson and John Benjamin Hickey. Ian McShane and Frances
Conroy have already been cast. The movie is slated to begin filming Feb.
26 in Romania.
ARAD UPDATES MARVEL FILM SLATE
Former Marvel Comics chief
Avi Arad, who is now a producer, said that his plate is full with upcoming
Marvel film adaptations through 2010, starting with Iron Man and the sequel
The Incredible Hulk. That's in addition to the upcoming sequel for The
Punisher, a possible fourth Spider-Man film and a second Ghost Rider; the
first one opens Feb. 16.
"We have Iron Man starting
in March, and The Incredible Hulk is starting in June, and across town
somewhere happening right now is a meeting about Punisher 2," Arad said.
"And we will see what happens to Ghost Rider , but I would like to get
Coming in 2007 are
Spider-Man 3 and Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer.
Further out are proposed
movies based on Captain America, Bratz: The Movie and Ant-Man. Arad also
confirmed that Wolverine and Magneto are coming as spinoffs of the X-Men
movies. As for a fourth X-Men ensemble film? "That's a question for Fox,"
Films that seem less
likely to be developed? Arad had nothing to say specifically about a Thor
movie, which is also supposedly in the works. But Nicolas Cage, who stars
in Ghost Rider, said that he is looking forward to Arad's proposed Sub-Mariner
Tidbits and Leftovers
Guest Columnist - Ginger Diamond
ICS Files is pleased to have
a column talking about our favorite genre.
Here they are – you can’t stop
thinking about them, Horror-meister Clive Barker's 5 favorite films- straight
from him to us.
THE EXORCIST: "The movie remains
powerful no matter how many times you watch it. There's something about
Friedkin's pseudo-documentary approach - the sense the sense that this
is a real place and he happens to be in the corner with a camera - that
gives the movie power. It's immacuately performed, and the effects
are extroidinarily good, even by today's standards. And it's about something
that scares us all."
ONIBABA: "I was 12 when I saw
it and it introduced me to the idea that horror was a universal idea. It's
a very human story about a mother's jealousy of her daughter's sexual freedom.
They're surviving in what seems to be some kind of war, and they take a
mask from a samurai they've killed, and in the end the mask and the mother's
envy come into play in an incredibly powerful way. It's a subtle movie
that every now and then becomes unbelievably harsh."
PSYCHO: "The obvious one. It
has this very flat, almost documentarty style, and then it suddenly turns
a corner you don't expect. God knows what it must have been for audiences
back in 1960, to find that the actress they've come to see was dead on
the bathroom floor 25 minutes minutes into the movie. It must have been
AUDITION: "The last 20 minutes
of this movie are the most intensel last 20 minutes that I know. I have
seen grown men hide behind my sofa while watching it. I've seen it two
or three times and I still squirm. It's something that bypasses any intellectual
grasp, and it is just terrifying."
SALO: "This is a movie you're
either going to love or hate. It's based upon the Marquis de Sade's '120
Days of Sodom', which is a very organized listing of the terrible things
one human being can do to another. It's set in the town of Salo, which
was destroyed by the facists during WWII, and it's a political movie that
says this is what happens when you give human beings the freedom to do
Kudos, Clive! In the same
vein - Prince Charles is buying a place in vampire country to help promote
tourism. The farmhouse is in the historical village of Viscri, Transylvania,
a region in Romania listed as a world heritage site, also known as the
birthplace of Vlad the Impaler - the 15th century ruler whose torturous
ways gave rise to the Dracula legend. Forget Montery, it's off to Transylvania
this year, Chuck!
How about this from Bruce Dern's
memoir, ''Things I've Said, But Probably Shouldn't Have.", due out in May.
One of Steven Speilberg's biggest
disappointments was never meeting Alfred Hitchcock. After "Jaws" triumphant
success Dern tried to convince Hitch on numerous occassions to see him.
"You're his idol.", he said. "He just wants to sit at your feet and chat
with you for five minutes." Hitch replied, "Isn't that the boy who
made the fish movie? I could never sit down and talk to him because I feel
like such a whore." Later he revealed why he made that bizarre statement
to Dern. "Because I'm the voice of the 'Jaws' ride ( at Universal Studios).
They paid me a million dollars. And I took it and I did it. I'm such a
whore. I can't sit down and talk to the boy who made the fish movie. I
couldn't even touch his hand."
I'll end with a quote from ”oh
my heart be still” Christopher Walken: "I am lazy. I don't have hobbies.
I don't have a kid. I don't have a computer. I don't like to travel. When
I'm not going to work, I read a lot of magazines and eat ice cream and
Stick a fork in me - I'm done,
Cast: Nicolas Cage, Eva Mendes, Wes Bentley, Sam Elliott
Premise: Long ago, superstar motorcycle stunt rider Johnny Blaze
made a deal with the devil to protect the ones he loved most. Now, the
devil has come for his due. By day, Johnny is a die-hard stunt rider...
but at night, in the presence of evil, he becomes the Ghost Rider, a bounty
hunter of rogue demons. Forced to do the devil's bidding, Johnny is determined
to confront his fate and use his curse and powers to defend the innocent.
THE NUMBER 23
Cast: Jim Carrey, Virginia Madsen, Danny Huston, Rhona Mitra
Premise: A man's life unravels after he comes into contact with
an obscure book titled The Number 23. As he reads the book, he becomes
increasingly convinced that it is based on his own life. His obsession
with the number 23 starts to consume him, and he begins to realize the
book forecasts far graver consequences for his life than he could have
MARCH 9th 300
Cast: Gerard Butler, David Wenham, Dominic West, Lena Headey, Rodrigo
Premise: The 1998 Dark Horse Comics limited series "300" written
and drawn by Frank Miller and painted by Lynn Varley. Both the comic and
this movie are based upon the Battle of Thermopylae of 480 B.C. in which
a small band of 300 Spartans, led by King Leonidas, held defense against
the massive armies of Persia's King Xerxes, sacrificing themselves so that
the rest of Greece can rally and defend themselves.
Premise: Using CGI, the TMNT are back! After the defeat of
their old arch nemesis, The Shredder, the Turtles have grown apart as a
family. Struggling to keep them together, their rat sensei, Master Splinter,
becomes worried when strange things begin to brew in New York City. Only
one super-ninja fighting team can stop it—those heroes in a half shell—Leonardo,
Michelangelo, Donatello and Raphael! With the help of old allies April
O’Neil and Casey Jones, the Turtles are in for the fight of their lives.
Good bye farewellsfarewellsfarewells
Robert Anton Wilson, a futurist, philosopher and coauthor
of the Illuminatus trilogy, a cult science fiction series about a secret
global society, has died.
The author of 35 books, Wilson wrote about extrasensory
perception, mental telepathy, metaphysics, paranormal experiences, conspiracy
theory, sex, drugs and what he called quantum psychology. He explored outrageous
ideas in a serious way and once described his writing as "intellectual
He wrote the Illuminatus trilogy with Robert Shea
in the late 1960s, when they were editors of the Forum department of Playboy
magazine. The books The Eye in the Pyramid, The Golden Apple and Leviathan
were published in 1975.
They never hit the bestseller lists but have never
gone out of print. Shea died in 1994.
The trilogy is a dense tangle of conspiracy theories
that was inspired by a thick file of letters the authors received from
It begins with the investigation by two New York City
detectives into the bombing at the office of a leftist magazine and the
disappearance of its editor. In the trilogy, a writer for the magazine
falls into the hands of the Discordians, a secret society locked in battle
with the all-powerful Illuminati, a group of elite authoritarians who control
the world. The stories have been credited with inspiring many pop culture
references to Illuminati, from THE X FILES to THE DA VINCI CODE. He was
Lee Bergere, a veteran character actor who appeared
in more than 200 television shows, including an episode of the original
STAR TREK series in which he played Abraham Lincoln, has died.
During his 60-year career which was almost exclusively
in television he also appeared on STUDIO ONE, ALCOA THEATER, THE ALASKANS,
WANTED DEAD OR ALIVE, WAGON TRAIN, BONANZA, T.H.E. CAT, HOGAN’S HEROS,
ALL IN THE FAMILY and MURDER SHE WROTE. He also appeared in such imaginative
T.V. shows as THE MUNSTERS, THE ADDAMS FAMILY, MY FAVORITE MARTIAN, THE
MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E., MR. TERRIFIC, SIX MILLION DOLLAR MAN and WONDER WOMAN.
He was 88.
Tige Andrews, a character actor who earned an Emmy
nomination for portraying Capt. Adam Greer, the officer who recruited the
undercover cops of television's THE MOD SQUAD, has died. He was 86.
His films included the WINGS OF EAGLES, MISTER ROBERTS,
IMITATION GENERAL, ONIONHEAD, THE LAST TYCOON and RAID ON ENTEBBE. On T.
V. he was in such other series as DR. KILDARE. RUN FOR YOUR LIFE, THE FUGITIVE,
GUNSMOKE, POLICE STORY, KOJAK, MURDER SHE WROTE and STAR TREK.
Donfeld, the Hollywood costume designer who was
nominated for four Academy Awards and created wardrobes for films like
THEY SHOOT HORSES, DON'T THEY? and PRIZZI'S HONOR, has died at age 72.
Born Donald Lee Feld in Los Angeles on July 3, 1934,
Donfeld attended Chouinard Art Institute before he went to work for Capitol
Records at age 19, designing album cover art. He changed his name early
in his career, because his last name was often misspelled in print, he
said. One of his first Hollywood assignments, in the late 1950s, was to
create costumes for Academy Award show production numbers.
Other films he designed for include MR. HOBBS TAKES
A VACATION, DAYS OF WINE AND ROSES, ROBIN AND THE SEVEN HOODS, THE GREAT
RACE, HOMBRE, DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER, SPACEBALLS and GLADIATOR. He also designed
costumes for television, including episodes of WONDER WOMAN, a 1970s series
starring Lynda Carter, which earned him an Emmy nomination in 1978.
THE LAST WARD . . .
THE LAST WARD
by John Ward
This year’s Oscar nominations revealed a number of
simple truths, and one very big surprise. First, the surprise, which
was literally history making: DREAMGIRLS became the first film ever
to tally the most nominations (8) without the benefit of a single nom for
Best Picture or Best Director. It has an excellent chance to walk
away on Oscars Night with the most awards, too, by virtue of its recognition
in some minor categories. But the fact that Bill Condon’s energetic
adaptation of the hit Broadway musical was ignored at the top of the Oscars
Food Chain made the race for the big prize much more difficult to predict.
And now, the simple truths: most of the
acting categories (well, okay, all of them) are locked up. That’s
what happens when you sweep most of the major critics’ awards, the Golden
Globes, and the Screen Actors’ Guild Awards. People tend to think
it’s a done deal, and many voters just rubber-stamp the decisions.
Which brings us to this year’s Oscars Predictions
column. I think this year, more than any other in recent memory,
the lesser categories will decide the eventual Pool winner. I just
can’t see much disagreement near the top. Except for Best Picture,
but more on that later.
Here we go:
To start, you’ve got a big wave, Superman saving
a jumbo jet, and the creepy, crawly innards of Davy Jones’ locker room.
The jet scene was the best thing about SUPERMAN RETURNS, but I’m not giving
the award for one scene. Ditto POSEIDON’S wave. I think PIRATES
OF THE CARIBBEAN: DEAD MAN’S CHEST will take this award for its seemingly
never-ending display of marvels.
This is a no-brainer. I don’t even know
why CLICK is nominated here, because I thought the makeup was pretty bad.
While I loved APOCALYPTO, I certainly didn’t walk out of that movie thinking
about the makeup. No, I think this one will go to PAN’S LABYRINTH,
far and away the best of a lackluster bunch.
I think this will come down to the song stylings
of DREAMGIRLS versus Clint Eastwood storming the beach at Iwo Jima in FLAGS
OF OUR FATHERS. I haven’t seen either movie, although I plan to catch
up to both on my Netflix queue, eventually. (Boy, is that becoming
a common habit.) My feeling is that DREAMGIRLS will take this one,
although it could go either way.
This category could basically be renamed “Best
Sound Effects.” If you take that definition literally, I don’t see
how the voters can overlook PIRATES 2. (I promised myself I’d only
write the really long title once.) Let’s face it – would you have
any idea what a kraken sounds like?
My personal choice here would be MONSTER HOUSE,
but only if voters could see the film in Disney Digital 3-D. Since
that’s not going to happen, I guess I’ll fall back on this year’s Pixar
model: CARS. And that’s only because I’m getting tired of hearing
about penguins. (Go ahead; pick HAPPY FEET if it’ll make you feel
any better. See if I care. Geez!)
ANIMATED SHORT FILM
I’ve read that some folks think THE LITTLE MATCHGIRL
will win because it’s seen as the last gasp of 2-D animation. The
only problem with that theory is that it’s about a year too late; the plug
has been pulled on 2-D’s life support. I’ll go with LIFTED because
I think it’s possible that Pixar could win twice in one night. Call it
a hunch. (I’m allowed one of those once in a while. You don’t
have to bet on it, of course.)
LIVE ACTION SHORT FILM
Welcome to the return of the Haven’t-Got-A-Clue
category. Once again, an odd mix of titles: BINTA AND THE GREAT
IDEA, ERAMOS POCOS, HELMER & SON, THE SAVIOUR, and WEST BANK STORY.
I’ll vote for WEST BANK STORY because it sounds vaguely political.
Either that, or a failed attempt at another musical.
DOCUMENTARY SHORT SUBJECT
I haven’t heard much about these nominees, but
the one title that does keep popping up online is THE BLOOD OF YINGZHOU
DISTRICT. So let’s go with that. (There ya go: a short
comment for a short subject.)
AN INCONVENIENT TRUTH, the documentary about
Al Gore and global warming, is clearly the favorite here. It’s the
only nominee in the category that has seen serious time in the theaters,
which still counts for something.
Traditionally, this has been my least successful
category for picks; it was the one that I denied RETURN OF THE KING, after
all. This year, you’ve got a wildly eclectic mix: CURSE OF
THE GOLDEN FLOWER, THE DEVIL WEARS PRADA, DREAMGIRLS, MARIE ANTOINETTE,
and THE QUEEN. My pick is DREAMGIRLS, for no other reason than I
think it’s a bandwagon choice.
My personal choice here would be PAN’S LABYRINTH,
and I would be very happy if it won – an offbeat mix of brutal reality
and imaginative fantasy. But once again, I’ve got to go with DREAMGIRLS.
Its staging of musical numbers has received rave reviews.
Who’da thunkit? A relatively minor tech
category turns out to be one of the toughest to call. You’ve got
a virtual three-way dead heat with BABEL, UNITED 93, and THE DEPARTED.
BABEL will rack up some CRASH-style votes for its ability to weave three
disparate plot threads throughout its storyline, while UNITED 93 will score
votes for its real-time impact and level of tension. My personal
choice is THE DEPARTED, and I will go out on a very short limb to pick
it here, but either of the other two could also win.
This category has become increasingly difficult
to call in recent years, with more and more new faces – this year, the
only recognizable names were Philip Glass (NOTES ON A SCANDAL) and Thomas
Newman ( THE GOOD GERMAN). Oscar pundits seem to be leaning toward
BABEL, and I wish I could go along with them, but I liked the music from
PAN’S LABYRINTH, so I’ll go with that.
I predict that DREAMGIRLS will win this category.
Not such a tough call, when you realize the movie grabbed three of the
five available nominations. Remember last year, when there were only
three nominees? If it weren’t for DREAMGIRLS, this year there would
have been only two. The buzz seems to be building for “Listen,” from
CARS. (Just kidding – it’s from DREAMGIRLS.)
Whaddayaknow, I’ve seen four of the five nominees
in this category – and the buzz favorite seems to be CHILDREN OF MEN, the
only nominee I haven’t seen. It figures. Another pick for my
Netflix queue. My personal choice, again, would be PAN’S LABYRINTH.
But I have a feeling that PAN will win somewhere else.
FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM
And here’s the somewhere else. I mistakenly
thought PAN’S LABYRINTH was a product of Spain; it was set in Spain during
the fascist Franco regime, after all, and the language is Spanish.
But it actually hails from Mexico, as does its gifted director, Guillermo
del Toro. I haven’t seen the other nominees, but I can’t imagine
any of them stealing the spotlight from PAN.
On the surface, this looks like another too-close-to-call
category, but I ‘m giving a slight edge to the witty LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE
over the “bigger” picture, BABEL. It’s possible, but less likely,
that either THE QUEEN or LETTERS FROM IWO JIMA could steal votes in this
category. The outsider here looks to be PAN’S LABYRINTH, although
I would love to see del Toro accepting the Oscar onstage.
Forget about both LITTLE CHILDREN and NOTES
ON A SCANDAL – most voters already have. CHLDREN OF MEN has support,
but I think the vote will come down to BORAT vs. THE DEPARTED. The
BORAT vote is misguided, because no one seems to be really sure just how
much of the film was scripted. I think THE DEPARTED will win here.
Okay, repeat after me: Eddie Murphy for
DREAMGIRLS. Bet the mortgage.
Jennifer Hudson for DREAMGIRLS. Bet the
Helen Mirren for THE QUEEN. Bet the cable
Forest Whitaker for THE LAST KING OF SCOTLAND.
Bet the milk money. (Only because Peter O’Toole will rack up some
sentimental votes. Otherwise, I’d bet next month’s mortgage.)
Martin Scorsese for THE DEPARTED.
Martin Scorsese for THE DEPARTED.
MARTIN SCORSESE for THE DEPARTED!!
Bet all the money you have, have ever had, or
ever will have.
Which brings us to the final category, and this
year, it’s one of the toughest to call. David Poland’s Movie City
News website says that you can talk to anyone in Hollywood on any given
day and get an entirely different vote on how this one will go. Tradition
says that the Picture and Director usually go hand in hand, but after the
last couple of years, that theory has lost quite a bit of its credibility.
(Just ask Ang Lee.) I honestly think that all of the nominees have
at least a smidgen of a chance, although if you put a gun to my head, I’d
say that’s pretty much all that THE QUEEN and LETTER FROM IWO JIMA have:
a smidgen. At this point, I’m beginning to think BABEL is stalling;
it might have outlived its welcome. LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE is receiving
fresh life on DVD, as is THE DEPARTED, although in the case of the latter,
it’s probably not enough to matter. I still think THE DEPARTED has
enough juice to ride Scorsese’s coattails all the way to the stage.
But we’ll see.
Special note to all club members: it’s
not too late to cast your ballot in the club’s annual Oscars Pool.
Just send me your picks via email by Saturday afternoon, Feb. 24, or give
them to me at the February club meeting. And stop back here next
month for my second annual Oscars-by-the-Minute column.
Damn, you know what? Sometimes these things
just seem to write themselves.
CALENDER OF EVENTS