Recent Entries in Film

According to retroCRUSH. See if you can guess the film by the image.


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#10: Nothing But Trouble (1991)

THE PITCH: Dan Aykroyd writes, directs AND stars in a new comedy with John Candy and Chevy Chase! (This was back when then name "Dan Ackroyd" still meant "the guy who wrote Ghostbusters and Blues Brothers," not "that really fat guy playing Britney Spears' dad in Crossroads.")

THE PAYOFF: Either Aykroyd has a different sense of humor from other humans, or it's possible he just vastly miscalculated the hilarity that would ensue by having grotesque, freakish psychotics attempt to viciously murder people in a nightmarish premise involving transvestites, cannibals with detachable penises for noses and Demi Moore attempting to act. John Waters would have looked at this script and thought, "Wow, that's fucking insane."

THE PROBLEM: Aykroyd apparently based the concept of the film around a real-life incident where he was pulled over for speeding in the back woods, then taken in the middle of the night to the mayor's house to be terrorized by hicks. If you're thinking, "That actually sounds kind of unsettling and horrible, and not a good idea for a laugh-romp comedy," you probably would have come in handy patiently explaining this to Aykroyd before he filmed a joyless, Deliverance-like movie about people getting pulled over for speeding in the back woods, then taken in the middle of the night to the mayor's house to be terrorized by hicks. - Comedies That Should Have Been Awesome (And Weren't)



You Might Know Him From...
Men at Work, Road House, Platoon, Barbershop, Armageddon, the 1980 blockbuster Disco Godfather.

Special Moves
Not giving a fuck about anything other than completing the duty/assignment/trash pickup assigned to him.

Is a Poor Man's...
Louis Gossett, Jr. - The 20 Best "That Guys" of All Time

There have been two strategies employed in CGI animation more recently to avoid going the way of Final Fantasy. One is to deliberately choose an exaggerated, cartoonish look for characters in order to avoid the potential pitfalls of the Uncanny Valley by staying well to the left of it on Mori's graph. This is precisely what Pixar did for 2004's The Incredibles, whose characters are recognizably human but not much more realistic than a two-dimensional cartoon. The other strategy is to do exactly what Hiroshi Ishiguro did: to "jump the Valley" by working backwards from real human beings. In the Lord of the Rings trilogy, for example, the character of Gollum was animated based on the captured recorded motions and voice of actor Andy Serkis. Moral of the story: it is very difficult to pull off creating a realistic animated human being from scratch - and perhaps even foolish to try.

Overall it seems clear that there is something causing the anxiety epitomized by Hiroshi Ishiguro's daughter and the uneasiness experienced by many viewers of computer-animated human beings. Whether this is all based in an Uncanny Valley of aesthetics and movement or based in something else, it will likely have to be thoroughly explored and resolved if humanoid robots are ever required to become a part of human society. Masahiro Mori, although of course not at all skeptical of his own theory, agreed with the need for further study in order "to know what is human [and] to establish the design methodology for creating familiar devices through robotics research".

Damn Interesting - A Walk in the Valley of the Uncanny

Canadian artist Kristan Horton revisists Dr. Strangelove stills with household objects.


The Morning News - Dr. Strangelove Dr. Strangelove

Maybe we can start getting some good reviews at the Sun-Times again.

Ebert: We spend too much time hiding illness :: CHICAGO SUN-TIMES :: Metro & Tri-State


My Ninth Annual Overlooked Film Festival opens Wednesday night at the University of Illinois at Urbana, and Chaz and I will be in attendance.

So letâ..s talk turkey. What will I look like? To paraphrase a line from â..Raging Bull,â. I ainâ..t a pretty boy no more. (Not that I ever was. The original appeal of â..Siskel & Ebertâ. was that we didnâ..t look like we belonged on TV.)

What happened was, cancer of the salivary gland spread to my right lower jaw. A segment of the mandible was removed. Two operations to replace the missing segment were unsuccessful, both leading to unanticipated bleeding.

3rd Pro-Tarantino review.

ROTTEN TOMATOES: Grindhouse (2007): Rose McGowan, Freddy Rodriguez, Josh Brolin, Quentin Tarantino, Robert Rodriguez

While it would be hard to sit through â..Planet Terrorâ. again, Iâ..m going back to see â..Death Proof.â. Tarantino can do no wrong - unless he decides to film a romantic comedy starring Drew Barrymore. Sydney Tamiia Poitier nearly stole â..Death Proofâ. from the other actresses until unknown Zoe Bell overtook her. And Rose McGowan? Well, this is a giant leap for her from appearing naked on the red carpet at the MTV Awards with then-boyfriend Marilyn Manson. And she got herself an â..Aâ. list director to boot.

Another Pro-Tarantino review.

Movie Review (2): Grindhouse - Movies

â..Planet Terrorâ. is certainly the least of the two. Rodriguezâ.. gorefest shows all the dismemberments and eviscerations that happened off camera in those long-ago Saturday afternoons.

Tarantino generally ignores his own mandate to create a cruddy genre film, concentrating on vibrant natural performances and coming through with something very close to art and a worthy addition to his oeuvre.

The two films will be split up for release in Europe. Good idea because Rodriguezâ.. zombie flick will soon be forgotten. I suspect film students will be studying Tarrentinoâ..s instant minor classic for a long time to come.

Pro-Tarantino review.


Robert Rodriguez is better at making an old exploitation movie and Quentin Tarantino is better at capturing the joy of watching old exploitation movies, meaning that the Rodriguez half of Grindhouse is exuberant, post-modern camp and the Tarantino half is, as Tarantino's films usually are, pure delight. Rodriguez winks and tries maybe too hard; Tarantino, being the sui generis of a very specific kind of film, proceeds to create something that resembles Vanishing Point and Two-Lane Blacktop while steering clear of irony, self-indulgence, and post-modernism in its reverence.

3rd Pro-Rodriguez review.

Grindhouse - Quentin Tarantino - Robert Rodriguez - Death Proof - Planet Terror - Movie Review

Robert Rodriguez' Planet Terror, an over-the-top zombie shocker, is great trashy fun that lives up to the spirit of its title. Rose McGowan plays a Texas go-go dancer who faces an onslaught of bioweapons zombies at a barbecue joint. Freddy Rodriguez and Marley Shelton provide lively backup. Planet Terror is shoddily shot and edited, frames are missing, and the stock looks like it's been through a hundred drive-ins already.

After the hilariously campy halftime trailers by Eli Roth, Edgar Wright, and Rob Zombie ("Werewolf Women of the SS!"), the fun comes to a thudding halt. Quentin Tarantino's Death Proof attempts an odd deconstruction of the streamlined seventies car chase film (Vanishing Point is quoted again and again) and fails miserably. Like Steven Soderbergh's recent crack at resurrecting the international noir with The Good German, Death Proof is misguided and awkward.

Another Pro-Rodriguez review.


"Planet Terror" is by far the livelier, drawing from work by Herschell Gordon Lewis, Italian goremeisters Mario Bava and Dario Argento, and George A. Romero. The situation involves a bunch of people, including a beautiful doctor in high heels, a defrocked deputy, a one-legged go-go dancer, a barbecue chef and a wounded sheriff, trying to escape from a landscape of heavily armed, zombified cannibalistic killers.

Tarantino's "Death Proof" is so narratively simplistic that to describe it is to ruin it. Let's just say it's a car-chase movie fused with a women's acting workshop and leave it at that.

Pro-Rodriguez review.

'Grindhouse' churns out classic-action cheese

The difference in the two films is that Rodriguez is looking at a grindhouse film from the outside, playing with it, even capitalizing on the somewhat serious creative undercurrent and social zeitgeist that ran through many such films.

Tarantino, though, seems to actually climb inside the grindhouse form, embracing its myriad faults -- way, way too much filler dialogue, aimless story tangents, ultra-lengthy build-up, nonsensical plot, even sub-par acting. He's made a weak film with moments of inspiration about weak films with moments of inspiration.

This might explain why Kirk kept violating the Prime Directive.

Sentient Developments: Star Trek's 'Prime Directive' is stupid

In the Star Trek universe it is assumed that only Darwinian processes can enable a civilization to reach an advanced stage. It is likely that this is believed because of previous failures and a misguided reverence for evolutionary processes. Instead of giving up on uplift and helping a civilization integrate into advanced society, the Federation should keep trying to find an effective strategy. Leaving a primitive culture to their own devices could lead to their destruction -- a result that is quite obviously far worse than awkward socialization.

While the ethics of obligations is a very tricky thing, it is often through our inaction that we cause the most harm. Injunctions against playing God begs the question: if we don't play God, who will? It is through our good intentions and resultant actions that we are humane. Further, we have to get over our inferiority complex and our fear of making a bad situation worse. And if our actions do make things worse, then we have to refine our strategies and ourselves in hopes of eventually achieving success.

Good reading.

Moving Through Matter with Buckaroo Banzai

If you can imagine this journey through matter in Buckaroo's jet car, you're almost there. But where is "there?" Buckaroo's destination is not the fourth or even the fifth, but the eighth dimension! Where in hell is the eighth dimension?

The world of our everyday existence is known as "Minkowski spacetime." It has four dimensions, three spatial dimensions and a time dimension. When we deal with very large objects, it is essential to take into account the curvature of space which plays an important role in Einstein's special theory of relativity. At the human scale space doesn't look curved, but astronomers, who work at the galactic and supergalactic scale, must take the curvature of space into account.

In 1921, Theodore Kaluza, and later Oskar Klein, speculated that there may be mini-dimensions to space that we do not perceive. Here we are working in the realm of the very small, so we need to consider the geometry of space at a scale that is even smaller than the nucleus of an atom.

Dimensions are usually diagrammed as infinitesimally thin, mutually perpendicular lines. In the Kaluza-Klein theory, these lines become cylinders with a radius much less than that of an atomic nucleus. In other words, each dimension of spacetime is in fact two-dimensional: a cylinder of finite radius but infinite length. There would then be a total of eight dimensions, in which the eighth dimension is the sister dimension of everyday time, but at the subnuclear level.

With the release and critical success of Perfume: The Story of a Murderer, an adaptation of a novel once considered impossible to film, what better time to look into the process of adaptation. Most movies these days are based on literary sources. Which is ironic, considering the increasing lack of interest in books these days as opposed to the spoon-fed thoughts offered by Hollywood.

While many novels can be almost directly translated to screen, especially pre-20th century novels such as Jane Austenâ..s gossip columns, more recent novels can prove difficult. There have been bad novels turned into good films (pretty much everything Hitchcock Made, The Godfather), and plenty of dull adaptations of good books (Dune, The Unbearable Bore of Being in a Cinema to Watch This). Thereâ..s also a few oddities, such as Adaptation, Charlie Kaufmanâ..s bizarre self-referential adaptation of â..The Orchid Thiefâ... But despite the film industryâ..s frenzy in snapping up adaptation rights, there remains a few novels many fear.

The Unfilmables: A List of the Hardest Novels to Film - Screenhead

Here's the easiest way to comprehend the longevity of Scooby-Doo: Casey Kasem has been doing the voice of Shaggy (Norville Rogers, if you insist on his given name) for longer than he hosted his weekly Top 40 radio show. He started voicing Shaggy in 1969, the year before American Top 40 debuted, and he's still got the part, on television in the WB's Saturday-morning cartoon, What's New Scooby-Doo?, and in the direct-to-video movies the franchise keeps churning out.

Though it's hard to believeâ..and for animation purists, practically impossible to stomachâ..Scooby-Doo is the most enduringly popular cartoon in TV history. Starting with the original Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!, the show, in various permutations, was produced for 17 years (and, with its latest incarnation, it's in production again), making it the longest-running network cartoon ever. Because of syndication, it's never been off the air since it debuted, and it probably never will be. Now it's expanding its empire: Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed opens today in theaters nationwide, the second of what promise to be many live-action Scooby movies. In 2002, the live-action Scooby-Doo raked in $54.2 million on its opening weekend, on its way to a $153-million box office.

The legacy of Scooby-Doo creator Iwao Takamoto. - By Chris Suellentrop - Slate Magazine

So it was mostly R2 and Chewbacca who were in the know.

A New Sith, or Revenge of the Hope

20 years earlier, Chewbacca was second in command of the defence of his planet. He's there in the tactical conferences and there on the front lines and is a personal friend of Yoda's. When he needed reliable people to join the embryonic Alliance, who else would Yoda turn to but his old friend from Kashykk? Given his background, there is no way that Chewie would spend the crucial years of the rebellion as the second-in-command to (sorry Han) a low-level smuggler. Unless it's his cover. In fact, Chewie is a top-line spy and flies what is in many ways the Rebellion's best ship.

The Millenium Falcon may look like a beat-up old freighter but it can outrun any Imperial ship in normal space or hyperspace, hang in a firefight with a Star Destroyer or outmaneouvre a dozen top-of-the-line TIE fighters. It's a remarkable feat of engineering and must have cost a colossal fortune to build. How does Han come to own a ship like that? He only thinks he does, actually it's Chewie's. Half-way through RotS, we see the Falcon landing at the Senate building on Coruscant. If it's the same ship (which of course it is) then it was the personal transport of one of the senatorial delegations - a much more likely source to commission its design. That delegatino must have later joined the Rebellion and given it the use of the Falcon. In fact, if the delegation is the one from Kashykk, then the ship may have belonged to Chewbacca as early as RotS.

Han and Luke get medals but Chewie doesn't. Actually, Leia offers him one but Chewie turns it down. He got one of those things from Yoda about 20 years ago, but there's no way he can tell her that.

Busted! The U.S. Government has fined director Oliver Stone for illegally traveling to Cuba.

According to a tersely-worded Department of Treasury document released Dec. 1, the IXTLAN Corp. of Santa Monica, Ca. â.. Stoneâ..s production company â.. will pay $6,322.20 to â..resolve allegations of violations of the Cuban embargo.â. The violations occurred between Feb. 2002 and May 2003.

The report continues: â..OFAC alleged that IXTLAN and four individuals dealt in services in which the government of Cuba or a Cuban national has an interest incident to the making of a documentary film. The matter was not voluntarily disclosed to OFAC.â. Riptide - Oliver Stone Gets Fined for Cuba Visit

If Denny Renz were a boy again, he said, he would love nothing more than to re-enact Ralphie Parkerâ..s childhood.

Brian Jones, with a Red Ryder air rifle, started a business that sold the leg lamp made famous in â..A Christmas Story.â.

He would crawl under the kitchen sink the way Ralphieâ..s brother, Randy, did to hide from Mr. Parker, their father in the 1983 movie â..A Christmas Story.â. He would swing from the tree in the backyard, he said, dodging imaginary BBs fired from Ralphieâ..s coveted â..official Red Ryder 200-shot carbine action range model air rifle.â.

â..Iâ never seen this house before, but itâ..s like I grew up here,â. said Mr. Renz, 62, who drove 103 miles from Fairview, Pa., to see the home here where exterior shots of â..A Christmas Storyâ. were filmed.

Recreating â..A Christmas Storyâ.. for Tourists in Cleveland - New York Times

  Borat Tricked Me!

Sacha Baron Cohen's Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan is set to open in two weeks. The comedy follows a fictional Central Asian journalist who travels across the United States and interviews real people. Several of the film's unsuspecting stars have come forward recently to say they got duped into participating in the mockumentary. Most say they never read the fine print on the release forms they signed. What kind of releases are they?

Extra-long ones. Production companies typically get releases from everyone who appears on camera and can be identified in a finished film. A standard consent agreement has a couple of components. First, the signer agrees to let the producers use his image and voice in any way they see fit. Second, he waives the right to make a claim for defamation, invasion of privacy, or infringement of his rights of publicity.

How'd they get people to be in the Borat movie? - By Daniel Engber - Slate Magazine

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