Film Retrospect - Summer of '97: Kevin Smith's Chasing Amy

Die hard fans of the so-called View Askew universe have been with filmmaker Kevin Smith every step of the way and established themselves as stone cold devotees from Clerks to Mallrats. I was not one of those people, thank you very much. Honestly, I thought Clerks, while clever for what it is, was hugely overrated and I, like a lot of American critics, was a total snob to Mallrats and thought Smith's days were over. Ten years ago (in 1997), he made a film that not only demolished expectations of every critic (including this one) who had completely written him off, but was one of the best films of the year - Chasing Amy.

 Posted June 11 in Film Retrospect | Comments

The Betting Table: Summer Edition - This Week: Ocean's 13

Welcome to The Betting Table, a look at the weekend's theatrical fare and a place where you can place your bets on what will swim and what will sink.

Director Steven Soderbergh and the gang are back. Mostly. Julia Roberts and Catherine Zeta-Jones are out. Sea of Love stars Al Pacino and Ellen Barkin are in. The setting is back in Vegas and the stakes are high in this third entry in an unlikely trilogy.

 Posted June 8 in Betting Table | Comments Closed

Film Retrospect: Masters of the Universe

Masters of the UniverseThink you're geeking out over Transformers opening up in July? Try being a 10-year old and learning that they made a live-action movie based on one of the coolest cartoons in all of filmation! Truly, you've earned your geek badge if you can recall your after-school afternoons, basking in the land of Eternia, followed by He-Man's cousin, "She-Ra, Princess of Power", a round of "G.I. Joe", then "The Transformers", then the rip-off, "Go-Bots", and 30-minutes of "Rambo" in PG-rated adventures, where he'd put his bandana on in a montage… even though he was always wearing one already! Sorry, I just had a violent 80's flashback, set to the tune of Bananarama. Okay, back to the subject at hand.

Here is some hardcore geek info (if you already knew this, then consider yourself a personal friend of mine): the He-Man toys were created when Mattel developed a spin-off line of action figures for the movie Conan the Barbarian! The line was cancelled when it was decided the R-rated film wouldn't sell action figures to children effectively, but instead of destroying the already established figures, they were re-painted! Thus, "Conan" became "He-Man", the line was re-distributed and the rest is history! Okay, I'll cover my back and state that this is a popular urban legend that Mattel neither confirmed nor ever denied, but still, aren't you glad you know this?!

 Posted June 2 in Film Retrospect | Comments

The Betting Table: Summer Edition - This Week: Knocked Up

Welcome to The Betting Table, a look at the weekend's theatrical fare and a place where you can place your bets on what will swim and what will sink.

The funny co-star of The 40-Year Old Virgin impregnates the gorgeous co-star of Grey's Anatomy. Hilarity ensues.

 Posted June 1 in Betting Table | Comments Closed

Director Spotlight: Gore Verbinski

If nothing else, Gore Verbinski was always going to be known as the guy who made those "Bud… Weis… Er" frog commercials. Truly some of the most popular of all Superbowl ads, this one-time music video director hit it big with his swamp-set spots for Budweiser beer. Whether he would make a good feature film director was another story - his wide range of very different films and astonishing successes set Verbinski apart immediately. Today, while (arguably) best known for his Captain Jack adventures, Verbinski continues to impress with an adaptable style that makes him a good fit for just about any film project that comes his way.

 Posted May 24 in Director Spotlight | Comments

Director Spotlight: William Friedkin

Funny how a filmmaker can have the Master of Horror label permanently stamped on them for just one movie. While a talented director with a considerable list of accomplishments, William Friedkin will be forever tied to The Exorcist. This is both a curse (everything he's made since has been compared unfavorably to it) and a blessing (the ongoing popularity of that one film has given him longevity, as he has found work even after making a string of box office flops). He is an American director who has made better films than The Exorcist more than once in his career, even though that split pea-gusher will forever be his most famous contribution to cinema.

 Posted May 21 in Director Spotlight | Comments Closed

Film Retrospect - Summer of '97: The Fifth Element

Fifth ElementIt's been ten years since Luc Besson's beloved sci-fi fantasy, The Fifth Element, has graced theaters, almost as hard to believe that the film was made at all. Even with Besson's considerable reputation (he is known as "The French Steven Spielberg", mostly due to The Professional, The Big Blue and La Femme Nikita), the film must have been a tough pitch, as the story was not only a cause for massive secrecy in pre and post-production, but because of its origin. Besson has openly admitted that he first came up with the idea for the film in school… when he was 13. It makes sense if you think about it: in the distant future, a cab driver discovers that the key to the salvation of the world is a hot, female, red-headed alien (embodied on film by a Milla Jovovich). Truly, if flying cars, psychopathic villains, the end of the world and an attractive heroine who barely wears any clothing doesn't sound like the product of a teenage boy's active imagination, then what does? Somehow, Besson financed his lavish, elaborate and top-secret film, which is arguably his most personal and it made an enormous impression worldwide.

 Posted May 21 in Film Retrospect | Comments

The Betting Table: Summer Edition - This Week: Shrek 3

Welcome to The Betting Table, a look at the weekend's theatrical fare and a place where you can place your bets on what will swim and what will sink.

Part three of the ongoing Shrek franchise (I'd say trilogy, but really, you know they'd make Shrek the 13th if this continues to be a runaway cash cow for Dreamworks). In addition to the original cast, pop superstar and box office poison Justin Timberlake co-stars.

 Posted May 18 in Betting Table | Comments

When Animated Voice Talent Can't Save A Film

With mixed reviews of Shrek the Third pouring in, it must be said that voice talent may be enough to open an animated film, but isn't enough to sustain it at the box office or (most importantly) guarantee a good movie. It seems like this trend began when Robin Williams voiced the Genie in Aladdin - his work was so celebrated, sales of the direct-to-video sequel, Aladdin and the King of Thieves, sky-rocketed, as Williams' involvement made it a must-see. Here are some other animated films that, despite the cast involved, never found an audience.

 Posted May 17 in Editorial, Hype, Opinions | Comments Closed

Barry's Top 10 Summer Movie Disappointments of All Time

Now that Spider-Man 3 has broken every box office record known to man, the tough truth sets in. Some liked or loved the film, but many more (like me) were more than a little disappointed. For all the many things in the film that worked, the stuff that didn't was crushing. I'm not sure how much the film's popularity overall will hold up over time, as most will buy the DVD just for the sake of completion and even those who didn't like it will probably want to see it at least once more before the year is out. Still, for me at least, it was a major summer movie letdown. Yet, this was far from the first time a majorly hyped summer movie attraction had me walking out of a theater feeling angry, disappointed or seriously violated. Here are a few other lemons that betrayed my initial enthusiasm, stole my eight bucks and left me feeling empty.

 Posted May 15 in Editorial, Opinions | Comments

Director Spotlight: Danny Boyle

Here's a filmmaker who made one of the essential 90's films, as well as one of the most celebrated zombie films of the past 20 years. Danny Boyle's work as a director is eclectic, adventurous and daring. This fearlessness has also lead to some uneven films as well. You can say this is a filmmaker whose best work is still ahead of him; yet his artistic output shows an inventiveness and versatility that matches even Sam Raimi.

 Posted May 14 in Director Spotlight | Comments

The Betting Table: Summer Edition - This Week: 28 Weeks Later

Welcome to The Betting Table, a look at the weekend's theatrical fare and a place where you can place your bets on what will swim and what will sink.

28 Weeks Later - the sequel to 2003's surprise hit, 28 Days Later, a zombie horror movie with an apocalyptic look and lots of flesh munching (so essentially it's Children of Men crossed with Dawn of the Dead).

 Posted May 11 in Betting Table | Comments




Alex's Top 10 of 2015
1. Mad Max: Fury Road
2. Son of Saul
3. Victoria
4. Creed
5. Sherpa
6. The End of the Tour
7. Sicario
8. The Revenant
9. The Martian
10. Beasts / No Nation
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Jeremy's Top 10 - 2015
1. Anomalisa
2. Creed
3. Mad Max: Fury Road
4. Ex Machina
5. Room
6. The Hateful Eight
7. Spring
8. White God
9. Montage of Heck
10. Spy
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