Tag: Movies

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First, my disclaimer: As a Christian, Christ should be the fount and goal of all of our lives, and certainly of Christmas. Most Christmas media omit that, sadly. Yet I am glad when Christian virtues, which I believe all depend on Him and His presence in our world, are celebrated. So I rejoice in both […]

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This was so up my alley that I am not even sure a review is necessary. The trailer above is filled with spoilers of some of the best moments in the film, and I still managed to enjoy, laugh and groan at the things that I’d already been tipped off to. This is the kind […]

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Get Woke? No, Get Boring; Go Broke

 

A phrase about modern entertainment has gone about nowadays. It rhymes, it’s pithy, and it seems to fit the situation perfectly, “get woke, go broke.” I’d argue, however, that the reality is the massive failure in entertainment hasn’t been the wokeness at all, but the sheer dearth of creative talent. To be entirely honest, if the last couple of decades were producing well-written and entertaining movies and television, “get woke, go broke” would be a phrase people would laugh about all the way to the bank. The entire problem overall has been that writing has been, in general, not necessarily awful but rather boring.

Boring is worse than bad, in fact. Bad movies can still entertain (if not for the intended reason). People will talk about bad movies and TV. People will watch bad movies and TV programs because they are bad. Boring doesn’t get talked about. Boring doesn’t get repeat views. Boring television loses viewers. The problem with streaming is they’ll make an entire season and are stuck with it even after it bleeds viewers. In network days, a TV show that lost viewers was gone, often fast.

Give ‘Em Props – and Sets

 

Props and settings can have a great effect on how authentic, imaginative, and even how much fun a movie is. This is especially true when the prop is something that doesn’t actually exist or may never exist. The technology behind the gadget often can’t really be explained, yet a skilled production designer can suspend a lot of disbelief, making a made-for-the-movies device seem dramatically real.

Back in the day, Walt Disney, the man and the studio, had a particular knack for great model work and props, whether it was Jules Verne’s Nautilus, re-imagined in 1955 as a 19th-century atomic submarine in 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, or using a flying Model T Ford as a testbed for anti-gravity in 1961’s The Absent-Minded Professor, or that same year creating an inventive-looking but believable space-age toy fabricator, a 3D printer 50 years ahead of its time in Babes in Toyland. Clever movie props make something that you know to be impossible into something you want to believe in.

Halloween Recommendations

 

It’s that season, the season of my people. Since some folks only watch horror flicks this time of year, I thought I’d provide my services and offer up a charcuterie board of spooky movies for those precious days we have left before All Hallows’ Eve. I assume you already know Beetlejuice and The Bride of Frankenstein. This will be a list of the lesser known, the overlooked, and the unsung. Grab a bag of Takis and let the Caro Syrup flow.

Fiend Without a Face (1958)

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One summer Robin and I were catching up on Breaking Bad, at that time considered to be one of the most ground-breaking episodic shows on television. We were so into the storyline that we were staying up until 1 or 2 a.m. saying to each other, “Can you do another one? I can do another one? Wanna’ do […]

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My update on what to watch and what to avoid: Nicholas and Alexandra: Sweeping, epic–here’s a movie that earns these adjectives. This film, made in the 70’s, sympathetically and beautifully portrays the Romanov family’s life from the early 1900’s through the Bolshevik Revolution.  However, this three-hour saga doesn’t ignore the struggles of other Russian players, including […]

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Clarity From a Hollywood Leader

 

Deadline has a great interview with Tom Rothman, Motion Picture Chairman at Sony Pictures.  He explains why the theatrical model for movies is far from dead, how streaming will help movies, and doesn’t pull any punches.  The best quote is on the Academy:

You mentioned the Academy. That was never particularly relevant to young people, but it was much more relevant culturally. Failings of the show aside, and we could talk about that forever, the Academy itself, and the pictures that it picks, has lost complete touch with the large audience. It’s become a self-defining elitist redoubt, and you’re just not going to be relevant if you’re that.

On this episode of “The Federalist Radio Hour,” Federalist Publisher Ben Domenech joins Culture Editor Emily Jashinsky to discuss their favorite and least favorite films of 2021 and evaluate whether movies finally made a comeback from a pandemic-induced cinema drought.

Economic Realities I Confront Students with in Public University

 

Helping students to understand the outcomes of their assumptions.

These are comments I send to each student after they have written their final project for one of my classes. The lines of thought deal with issues of economics based on the movie “Parasite” (Joon-ho, 2019). Most students write about class, capitalism, discrimination, equity, or the like as a theme that they draw from the movie and then do a semester full of research on their topic. I have suggested alternate viewpoints throughout the semester, pointing out economic approaches students in a public university do not always hear. Student tendencies espouse a general socialistic perspective where “government” is seen as having jurisdiction over monetary affairs. I never press my views on students but I surely have them consider the implications of theirs (or any) economic theory.

My general comments about the “Argumentative Writing” final project:

Marx and Freud Go to the Movies … and Nearly Ruin a Classic

 

My day back at the multiplex:

I saw the original “West Side Story” in the 1980s, and to me in my craven youth, it seemed kind of dorky, what with those skinny boys snapping their fingers and crooning Daddy-O, in a deeply un-ironic way. Not hip at all. But the music and dancing were glorious. And so I found myself today at the new “West Side Story” mouthing the words of classics like “One Hand, One Heart,” and even “Cool” with its toned-down Daddy-O’s, singing along softly enough not to disturb the four others in the theater, who I think were singing along too. The technology today is of course superior to the ‘80s, and conductor Gustavo Dudamel brings new richness and beauty to the score.

Bollywood Movie Staples

 

–Parents who want son or daughter to wed and are constantly bringing in photos of potential suitors or setting up meetings.

–A plot involving an unsuitable romantic partner versus the husband or wife arranged for the protagonist years ago.

Movie Review: Ghostbusters Afterlife

 

Ghostbusters (1984) is not a kid’s movie. Or to the extent that it is it’s by happenstance. Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis weren’t thinking of toy lines and Saturday morning cartoons when they wrote a script about schlubby middle-aged men running a startup in pre-Giuliani New York. We loved it as kids because of Slimer, proton packs, Ecto-1, Zuul, and the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man. We were oblivious to the jokes about mortgages and oral sex. It would take years before we appreciated Bill Murray’s charming indifference. Using “we” in this context might be presumptuous. As Ghostbusters: Afterlife shows, some people never moved beyond “proton packs are cool.”

After being evicted, single mother Callie Spengler (Carrie Coon) and her two kids, Phoebe (McKenna Grace) and Trevor (Finn Wolfhard) move to Summerville, OK, to live in the farmhouse left by Callie’s recently deceased father, Egon. Trevor lies about his age to get a job at the diner where his crush works. Phoebe doubts she can make any friends. On her first day at summer school, she hits it off with a kid who calls himself “Podcast” (Logan Kim). Guess his hobby. Podcast isn’t the only one that takes a liking to Phoebe. Their teacher, Gary Grooberson (Paul Rudd), is impressed by her scientific knowledge and shares with her the strange seismic activity he’s recorded in Summerville.

Callie makes it clear she was not close to her father. He abandoned her to live on this farm where according to the locals he didn’t grow anything. Is it true the beloved character Egon Spengler from the beloved film Ghostbusters ended up a deadbeat who left his daughter when she was a kid? Say it ain’t so. Maybe his plucky and inquisitive grandchildren will discover his hidden ghostbusting gear and with it the town secrets causing all that seismic activity. It might even turn out a series of supernatural contrivances forced him into that situation, and he actually loved Callie all along.

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The current behavior of the Democratic Party and its allies in media and academia…and especially that of the Biden admistration…reminds me of the 1991 movie Other People’s Money.  The main character, known as Larry the Liquidator, specializes in acquiring companies for the purpose of selling off their assets.  When the film opens, his new target […]

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Killing Off Movie Theaters

 

scales justice movie projectorRecently, Scarlett Johansson filed suit against Disney for breach of contract, because they allegedly violated the contractual agreement under which Johansson acting in and promoted Black Widow. Her lawyers pointed out in the complaint the shift, after the contract was signed, from exclusive wide release on several thousand screens for the first weeks to immediate streaming, cannibalizing box office for the benefit of Disney executives’ compensation. Noting that other studios were doing the same thing, I wondered what would happen when a likable superstar in a kid’s summer movie got the same treatment. We now know, with the opening weekend box office results for Jungle Cruise.

Disney turned out to be a rat rather than a friendly mouse, perhaps another alternate storyline in the Disney Universe. They attempted to smear Ms. Johansson as a COVID-19 Cruella, seeking to profit off people getting sick and dying from going to movie theaters. They then revealed Scarlett Johansson’s substantial salary figure, suggesting she was a grasping woman. This brought an immediate response from three media industry women’s groups: Women in Film, ReFrame, and Time’s Up:

Disney Rat

3D: Still Comin’ At Ya! 

 

Millions of people stood in line for hours to see the three-dimensional theater in the Chrysler Pavilion at the New York World’s Fair 1939-’40. Eager viewers donned cardboard glasses to see stop motion animation set to bouncy music, of real car parts magically flying around in the air, seemingly right in front of the dazzled audience, before neatly assembling themselves into a Chrysler sedan. It was one of the biggest hits of the future-oriented fair. In fact, it was so popular that unlike most other fair exhibitors, who discreetly cut back their budgets for the 1940 “repeat” edition, Chrysler more than doubled down, reshooting their short 3D film in full color.

The Fair opened before war broke out in Europe; by the time it closed, it was clear to most Americans that the magic of the future was going to have to wait a few years. But arrive it did, with highways, cars, suburbs, nylon stockings, and television. And by the dawn of the Fifties, stereoscopic movies, slides, and comic books were ready to join them, in a brief, spectacular, three-dimensional false dawn. That wave lasted only three years, 1952 through 1954, but to this day, whenever a more modern movie like Back to the Future (1985) wants to evoke the pop culture of the Fifties, the designers have someone don a pair of 3D eyeglasses.

Simulation, Revelation

 

The surest way to appreciate a work is to try to recreate it.

Toddlers help us to appreciate the difficulty of drawing or painting by their laughable scribbling. One might first pity the child’s lack of eye-hand coordination, lack of patience, or lack of barest attention to detail (“Is it an airplane? Oh, a cat! Of course, it is. It looks great!”). But few adults can sketch anything worthy of pride either. The more we advance in skill, the more we recognize the full challenge.