Saturday, October 21, 2006
A Modern Day "Good Night and Good Luck" Playing on You Tube
Last year, George Clooney caused a stir with this black & white film Good Night and Good Luck, which dramatized Edward R. Murrow's series of broadcasted editorial attacks on Senator Joe McCarthy's blacklisting trials. Today, a modern version of that brave journalistic move is playing out on www.YouTube.com, as the supporters of Keith Olbermann's editorials on the Bush administration have been rebroadcasting the MSNBC anchor's pieces on the Internet for all to see. If you haven't already seen or heard these editorials (which will no doubt one day become historic), you should. No doubt, in years to come, a film will mark this moment as well and dramatize the words of Olbermann, just as Clooney did for Murrow.
Friday, October 20, 2006
World War III on Film: Coming Soon?
In the 1980s, at the height of The Cold War, the images of a possible Third World War played across the big and small screen as cautionary tales of nuclear armageddon: Wargames, The Day After, Red Dawn, and Testament, to name a few. In all cases, the drama was drawn from tensions between the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. Well that scenario is a thing of the past (as is the U.S.S.R. for that matter). Many believe that the attack on 9/11 was the first battle in World War III. The current U.S. President has said as much. Presently, it's not inconceivable that within a few months as many as 13 nations could simultaneously be at war (The United States, Great Britain, Israel, Japan, South Korea, Lebanon, Syria, Palestine, North Korea, Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, and China). How will cinema document these days? How will fiction dramatize them?
Thursday, October 19, 2006
Movie Monsters: Classic vs Modern. Who would win?
Halloween is just around the corner. It got me to thinking about some dream match-ups on screen of classic movie monsters vs modern day counterparts. So, I have assembled a number of scenarios.Who do you think would win if:Dracula faced Freddie?Frankenstein's Monster fought Jason?The Wolfman battled Leatherface?The Mummy met The Shape?Now THOSE are some monster movies to think about!
Wednesday, October 18, 2006
Is Feature Animation Crashing and Burning Already?
Can it be that the glut of animated features (talked about on here some months ago), has led to a temporary backlash of these films? Boxoffice has not exactly been boffo lately for films such as, The Wild, The Ant Bully, Barnyard, and Open Season. Of course, that could be due to the fact that... NONE OF THESE FILMS ARE ORIGINAL! Enough with the talking animals. (And don't insult our intelligence with MALE cows!!!) We have seen this all before, in much better films. And while I'm at it, enough with a redux of the same stories which simply replace animals with some other novelty (like Robots or Cars, for example). It can truly be said of animated films (to borrow a statement from another field) that the efficiency of the practice has not yet equaled the efficiency of the principle. With the level of technology available today, we need complex scripts which will offer a challenge to produce them as animated features. Once again, enough with the talking animals (especially MALE cows), or cars or robots! Man, I long for the days of Beauty & the Beast, Aladdin, The Lion King and The Polar Express!
Tuesday, October 17, 2006
Why are We Becoming a Nation Proud to be Dumb?
When I was growing up, I was always encouraged to do well in school; to learn more; to try to gain knowledge (or know where to find it); to develop wisdom. So why have we become a nation which now seems to embrace being dumb, or idiots, or jackasses? And why do we reward such insipid, sophomoric trash as Jackass: Number Two, or Dumb and Dumber with big box office returns? Why have we made bestsellers out of the "Idiot's Guide to..." and "....for Dummies" series of books? Why have we allowed this level of intelligence in all aspects of our lives? Since when did the desire to be smart become a bad thing? Why do more people watch Dancing with the Stars than care about the national and international crisis around us? Remakes reflect this as well. Almost 100 percent of the time, the original version of a film presumed greater intelligence in its audience than did the remake (The Out of Towners and Miracle on 34th Street are two great examples). There's an easy way to put a stop to films which appeal to our lowest sensibilities: don't pay to see them.
Monday, October 16, 2006
The Evolution of Casper the Friendly Ghost on Screen
Casper's the friendly ghost, the friendliest ghost you'll know...so says the jingle that helped introduce a generation of animation/movie fans to a character that has found a rebirth (if you will) in the world of live action films and now computer animation 61 years after he first hit the big screen. Casper was created in the early-1940s by Seymour Reit and Joe Oriolo. The character was originally intended for a children's storybook, but there was little interest. Then, while Reit was away fighting WW II, Oriolo sold the rights to the character to Paramount Pictures' Famous Studios animation division. The Friendly Ghost (released by Paramount in 1945 as a Noveltoon), was the first animated short to feature Casper. He began, umm, life, as a cute, pudgy ghost-child, who prefers making friends with people instead of scaring them. This would become the theme of EVERY Casper film to follow. Casper appeared in two more Noveltoons before Paramount started a Casper the Friendly Ghost series in 1950. When the rights to Casper were sold to Harvey Entertainment, Casper was given a slight make-over, and slimed down a bit. It was at Harvey that he would experience his greatest success -- in cartoons, comics and beyond. In 1995, the live action film Casper (executive produced by Steven Spielberg) became a big screen success, introducing the character to a whole new generation of children. A bunch of direct-to-video sequels quickly followed, including Casper: A Spirited Beginning; Casper Meets Wendy (with a young Hillary Duff as Wendy the Good Little Witch!); and Casper's Haunted Christmas. This in turn renewed interest in the classic cartoons and made way for new computer animated versions as well. It's always interesting to me when a classic big screen character like Casper, or Popeye, or Felix the Cat (seemingly) rise from the dead to entertainment an entirely new generation of children.