ENJOY THE SHOW
About four years ago, I lost my wife. You read that right - I couldn't find her. At all. We were engaged at the time and had set a date for the movies (Secret Window was the film we chose to see together that night, I recall). We had set up a place to meet after work, only at 5:00, she didn't show. Neither of us had cell phones at the time, but I had a pocket full of quarters, so I called her at work - "she already left", someone told me. I called a few of her friends and they didn't know where she was either. I drove over to her parent's house - they hadn't seen her and thought she was with me. I smiled and politely thanked them, masking my growing feelings of unease. I drove back to the place we were designated to meet… not there. I began to wonder if she ran an errand or simply forgot. About 30 minutes after we were supposed to hook up, she was still a no-show (this was highly unlike her) and some truly paranoid musings began to take hold of me. I wondered if she was hurt, or trapped somewhere or, most likely, kidnapped.
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.
Think 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?!
It'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.
In somewhat honor of Spider-Man 3 being a third film in a massive franchise, today's film retrospect looks back at another third film in a rather successful series. The release of A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors 20 years ago was something of a milestone for the horror genre. Not only did it introduce one of the longest titles to ever grace a marquee (before Aqua Teen Hunger Force Colon Movie Film for Theaters and Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan), it brought a radical new direction to the enormously successful series that other genre films followed as well.
As the Summer of 2007 movie season is heard roaring in the distance, creeping ever so slowly towards the cineplexes, multiplexes and quadroplexes (the latter being a theater full of geeks watching movies on their ipods as the film plays on the silver screen), I'll continue to reflect on the summer movies that graced audiences from the previous ten and twenty years. As I think back to the summer of 1997, I automatically go to a film that was the most anticipated of the summer, a gargantuan hit and honestly, wasn't very good. Truly I will get around to examining some of the actual great films from this year (as well as from 1987), but for now let's look at The Lost World: Jurassic Park.
In our new feature Film Retrospect, we'll be looking back at films from 10 to 20 years ago, exploring their achievements and faults, how they affected audiences (if at all) and looking at their overall place in film history. We'll start with a film that was initially one of the most anticipated releases of 1996, until production troubles delayed the film to March of 1997.
The Devil's Own was a big, prestigious, adult-drama, Oscar-bait character study about an IRA soldier (Brad Pitt) who comes to America to gather weapons for "the cause" and, while in the States, rooms with an Irish-American cop (played by Harrison Ford) who discovers that his tenant is a terrorist. Directed by Alan J. Pakula (who not only helmed All the President's Men and The Pelican Brief but the Ford-starring Presumed Innocent), the film was a highly touted political drama and was positioned for a winter of '96 release.