Thursday, April 30, 2015

Zoetrope and Zoopraxiscope

Thursday: Point of View


Zoetrope and Zoopraxiscope

I'm using two z-words since a Zoetrope and a Zoopraxiscope are similar primitive motion picture devices--giving motion to images.

Images in the zoetrope are inside a drum with slits - you view them through the slits. Images for a zoopraxiscope are on a rotating glass disc and projected onto a wall.  

Zoetrope:



Zoopraxiscope: (this one is a little long, but gives interesting history and detail in how it was made)




And that, folks, is the end of the 2015 Blogging from A to Z April Challenge. This was my first time, and I already have theme ideas for the next three A to Z challenges! 

Speaking of challenges...this blog kicks off a monthly Video Challenge starting tomorrow, May 1. Check that date for details.


Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Years

Wednesday: Point of View


Years
Curious about specific years in the movies? Check out IMDb: Years

The top ten movies the year I was born: 1956
  1. Forbidden Planet
  2. The Ten Commandments 
  3. Giant
  4. The Searchers
  5. Bus Stop
  6. Around the World in Eighty Days
  7. Invasion of the Body Snatchers
  8. The King and I
  9. Moby Dick
  10. Carousel
I've seen four (in bold).

The year between my birth and now: 1985
  1. The Goonies
  2. Back to the Future
  3. The Breakfast Club
  4. Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome
  5. Legend
  6. Commando
  7. Rocky IV
  8. Brazil
  9. Weird Science
  10. St. Elmo's Fire
I've seen two.

Last year: 2014
  1. Unfriended
  2. Interstellar
  3. The Water Diviner
  4. The Forger
  5. Guardians of the Galaxy
  6. It Follows
  7. X-Men: Days of the Future Past
  8. Adult Beginners
  9. Kingsman: The Secret Service
  10. The Babadook
I saw one.

Not sure what that proves, except I don't seem drawn to the most popular movies.

What years did you check? Did you learn anything about yourself?

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Take 23: xXx and xXx State of the Union

Tuesday: Take - My "take" on a film.

xXx

I had a double dose of Triple X over the weekend. I planned to watch xXx: State of the Union (2005) for today's post, but my husband insisted that I watch the original xXx (2002) with Vin Diesel first. Yeah, I guess it makes sense to watch the original before the sequel.

I'm glad the star of the original was also in the sequel: the 1967 GTO. I thought my eyes were deceiving me in State of the Union when the it kept changing colors, but I learned they used a "special paint called 'interference pigment' ... which appears to change color when viewed from different angles" (IMDb Trivia).

The car brings memories of learning to drive a stick shift. My sister's '66 GTO wasn't decked out like the one in the movie, but it did contain weapons of mass destruction:  her three young children in the back seat.

But I digress.

The stunts and special effects in xXx were amazing. I liked the concept of using an extreme sports athlete as a special agent because Anarchy 99--a group of Russian ex-military--can "smell the training on our agents a mile away." And...

AUGUSTUS GIBBONS (Samuel L. Jackson)
Do we want to drop another mouse in the
snake pit? Or do we want to send our
own snake and let him crawl in?

The recruited agent? Xander Cage (Vin Diesel). The best part of the movie was the recruitment process.

In xXx: State of the Union, Gibbons recruits Darius Stone (Ice Cube), an imprisoned former Navy SEAL, as the newest Triple X agent.

To stop the mutiny in the White House, Stone needs people he can trust...a group of car-jacking hustlers whose leader doesn't feel a pull of patriotism until Darius tells him...

DARIUS STONE
Don't do it for the red, white, and blue.
Do it for yourself. Do it for the right
to hack and jack cars of the highest
quality on the same block as the White House.
...It's the American way of life, bro.

This gave me pause. But I had to agree. Freedom, and our agency, gives the right of choice. I have the right to choose a law-abiding life, they have the right to choose crime.

And I got a kick out of this:

DARIUS STONE
The fate of the free world in the hands
of a bunch of hustlers and thieves. 

AGENT KYLE STEELE
Why should tonight be any different?

Watching the first xXx before the second helped me understand what the Triple X agency was about, and who was who, but I actually enjoyed the second one better. Maybe I felt more invested since the plot involved my own country...and freedoms.


Notes on content:

  • No nudity in State of the Union, but xXx had some nudity which is another reason I didn't enjoy it as much since I needed to fast forward through those parts. 
  • Both films had violence (part of the genre), but I don't recall any extreme goriness.
  • Each film had one f-word, and several religious exclamations. 

(I usually exercise my freedom of choice by using a Clearplay filter to eliminate nudity, extreme violence, and offensive language, but it requires a DVD and without quick access to that format for these films, I settled for streaming.)

Monday, April 27, 2015

While You Were Sleeping, dialogue

Monday: Dialogue, Lines, or Quotes

While You Were Sleeping, dialogue


Food for thought from While You Were Sleeping (1995)...


LUCY
You give up your seat every day in the train.

PETER
That's not heroic.

LUCY
It is to the person who sits in it.


Saturday, April 25, 2015

Video Challenge

ANNOUNCING!!

Video Challenge!

While working on my degree (Film and Media Arts), I focused on screenwriting and ignored the required production course until the final semester. My advisor often suggested that I take the course early on, "You might discover you enjoy production and want to continue with more advanced courses." Nah, I wanted to learn how movies were made, I wasn't interested in making them!

Turns out she was right. I relished the production class. Even though I lived and breathed stress during that semester, the short videos I filmed, edited, and produced brought satisfaction beyond my expectations.

Now, I occasionally teach Basic Videography for community education in our local school district. (How's that for irony?) I love viewing the creative videos the students make, and decided to offer a monthly Video Challenge on this blog, open to the public.

At the beginning of each month (starting on May 1, 2015), I will post the parameters for the challenge -- required elements for that month's videos -- sometimes a designated character, location, and prop, other times a specific subject, or an overall theme. Video prompts to stir the creative juices, so to speak.

Those who enter the challenge will make a video 1-3 minutes in length. It can be one scene, or a complete story, but must have a beginning, middle, and end, and contain the designated elements for that month.

Deadlines will be the end of each month and the submitted video links will be posted on this blog a few days later (allowing time for me to view the submissions before posting).

Don't have time to film, edit, and produce a short video in 30 days? It's okay. I will post 2-3 months worth of video prompts in advance and you can select a month to shoot for.

Watch for the Reel Focus post on May 1 for the video prompts, rules, information, and guidelines.

Grab your camcorder, let's make some movies!

Friday, April 24, 2015

Understatement

Friday: Comic Relief


Understatement

Comic relief helps relieve the tension in drama and action films. Sometimes that comic relief comes through an understatement--dialogue that doesn't match the seriousness of the situation.

When a Chuck (Tom Hanks) sets sail in a make-shift raft and tells a volleyball...

CHUCK NOLAND
Don't worry Wilson, I'll do all
the paddling. You just hang on.

... that's an understatement. (Cast Away, 2000)

In Jaws (1975), when Brody (Roy Scheider) sees the enormous shark they pursue:

BRODY
You're gonna need a bigger boat.

Yeah, you can say that again.

A favorite movie understatement is from Quigley Down Under (1990). Matthew Quigley (Tom Select) hired as a sharp shooter, is beaten to a pulp and left for dead in the Australian desert along with an outcast woman named Crazy Cora (Laura San Giacomo).

CRAZY CORA
Don't worry, on a new job it's quite
common for things not to go well at first.


Thursday, April 23, 2015

Taglines over the years.

Thursday: Point of View


Taglines
Tagline--short, clever, catch-phrase used to advertise, often found on the film's poster.

Curious about how taglines might have changed over the years, I found information at "Great Film Taglines" (filmsite.org), and selected three from each group (choosing films I've seen).

Silents to 1930s
  • Love, Locomotives, and Laughs. The General (1926)
  • The story of the strangest passion the world has ever known. Dracula (1931)
  • A powerful story of 9 strange people! Stagecoach (1939)

1940s
  • EVERYBODY'S TALKING ABOUT IT! It's terrific! Citizen Kane (1941)
  • Veronica Lake's on the take. Sullivan's Travels (1941)
  • They had a date with fate in Casablanca. Casablanca (1942)

1950s
  • A Hollywood Story. Sunset Boulevard (1950)
  • The most UNUSUAL and INTIMATE journey into human emotions ever filmed!!! Rear Window (1954)
  • He had to find her...he had to find her... The Searchers (1956)

1960s
  • Check in. Relax. Take a shower. Psycho (1960)
  • The most beloved Pulitzer Prize book now comes vividly alive on the screen! To Kill A Mockingbird (1962)
  • They're young…they're in love…and they kill people. Bonnie and Clyde (1967)

1970s
  • This is the weekend they didn't play golf. Deliverance (1972)
  • Where were you in '62? American Graffiti (1973)
  • More entertaining than humanly possible. The Muppet Movie (1979)

1980s
  • The Adventure Continues… The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
  • The creators of JAWS and STAR WARS now bring you the ultimate hero in the ultimate adventure. Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)
  • He's the only kid ever to get into trouble before he was born. Back to the Future (1985)

1990s
  • Invisible. Silent. Stolen. The Hunt for Red October (1990)
  • One dream. Four Jamaicans. Twenty below zero. Cool Runnings (1993)
  • An epic of miniature proportions. A Bug's Life (1998)

2000s
  • Escape or Die Frying. Chicken Run (2000) 
  • They have a plan…but not a clue. O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000)
  • Holmes for the Holiday. Sherlock Holmes (2009)

Do you think the taglines improved over the years? Which movie would you see just based on the tagline?

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Shifting Movie Titles

Wednesday: Point of View


Shifting Movie Titles

I have a time crunch this week, so I'm re-posting something from 2013. I call it "Shifting Movie Titles." It's a fun way to come up with screenplay ideas.

First I chose ten movie titles consisting of only two words. I wrote each title on a separate piece of paper, mixed them up, then randomly selected each one so I wouldn't be tempted to orchestrate the list. Here it is:
  1. Rear Window
  2. Finding Nemo
  3. Die Hard
  4. Roman Holiday
  5. Groundhog Day
  6. High Noon
  7. Citizen Kane
  8. Toy Story
  9. Funny Farm
  10. Star Wars
Then I shifted the first words of each title one notch, and tried to think of ideas for a comedy film.
  1. Star Window
  2. Rear Nemo (He finally found his son, now he's gotta raise him through the teen years.)
  3. Finding Hard (Everything comes easy for Helga, so she sets out on a variety of bizarre and silly ventures searching for something to challenge her abilities.)
  4. Die Holiday (A man is determined to kill his least favorite holiday…Halloween.)
  5. Roman Day 
  6. Groundhog Noon (Groundhog Chattanooga Charlie challenges Punxsutawney Phil to a shadow duel at high noon. Whoever resists running from his shadow is the winner.)
  7. High Kane
  8. Citizen Story
  9. Toy Farm  
  10. Funny Wars (Class clown, Andrew, goes to Clown College only to discover being a goofball is serious business.)
I would love to hear your ideas for these titles! Can you come up with humorous concepts for the ones I skipped?

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Take 22: Return To Me

Tuesday: Take - My "take" on a film.

Return To Me
Realizing the letter R falls on a Tuesday -- when I post my take on a film -- I selected Return to Me (2000), a favorite.

After a year of grieving the loss of his wife Elizabeth (Joely Richardson), Bob Rueland (David Duchovny) finds himself attracted to Grace Briggs (Minnie Driver). As they date, he is unaware that Grace had a heart transplant a year earlier. She hesitates to tell him because she doesn't want treated as "broken." Neither of them are aware that Elizabeth's heart beats within Grace.

Although I knew the concept of the film before viewing it the first time, I was not prepared to know Elizabeth. I assumed Bob would already be a widower at the start. But no, I witnessed the close relationship between them, saw what a wonderful person she was and became somewhat attached to her, and then experienced (and bawled through) her death and Bob's mourning. And the mourning of her dog, Mel. Oh my goodness. Some scenes ripped my heart out.

I love the juxtaposition between Bob's devastation, and the hope of Grace's family and friends as she receives a life-saving heart. As one life passed, another is restored.

This is more than a romance. The love between Grace and her grandfather (Carroll O'Connor), and between the grandfather and his brother-in-law (Robert Loggia), and the camaraderie of their friends, young and old, makes me want to be part of their lives. And I want Megan Dayton (Bonnie Hunt) as my closest friend.

Wonderful heart-warming story of relationships, with drama, comedy, and quirkiness.

Trailer: Return to Me 

Notes on content:

  • Some mild profanity and several vain references to Deity, mainly from Joe Dayton (Jim Belushi) Megan's salty but lovable husband.
  • No full nudity. One scene has Grace examining the scar that runs from her collarbone down between her breasts, exposing cleavage. And another scene she is in the bathtub, with only her shoulders and knees visible. Belushi's character goes shirtless in one scene.
  • No violence. The auto accident is never shown, but blood is visible on Elizabeth's body as she's rushed to surgery, and Bob's shirt has blood all over it.


Monday, April 20, 2015

Quotes About Films

Monday: Dialogue, Lines, or Quotes

Quotes About Films

"I think cinema, movies, and magic have always been closely associated.  The very earliest people who made film were magicians." ~ Francis Ford Coppola

"A film is never really good unless the camera is an eye in the head of a poet." ~ Orson Welles

"Every great film should seem new every time you see it." ~ Roger Ebert

"Film is one of the three universal languages, the other two: mathematics and music." ~ Frank Capra

"The movies we love and admire are to some extent a function of who we are when we see them." ~ Mary Schmich

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Parents Guide

Saturday: Outtakes - random stuff tacked on to the ending of the week

Parents Guide
"People are very sensitive about what they put into their bodies.  But they will put anything into their brains.  They eat free-range chicken, but they watch TV shows about headless suburban demons.  They ingest loads of parsnips but never Picasso.  Call me a hidebound traditionalist, but the brain is every bit as important as the small intestine." ~Joe Queenan, columnist, Wall Street Journal
Even as an empty-nester I rely upon the IMDb Parents Guide. Some content (vulgarity, nudity, and extreme violence) pulls my mind into darkness and depression. I want to avoid that.

Useful links on this blog's sidebar include websites with information on content. These guides serve as a film's nutrition label for what I might feed my brain.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Ouch! That would hurt!

Friday: Comic Relief


Ouch!

It would hurt, but that's the fun of physical comedy, the character remains unharmed despite being knocked around, falling from great heights, squished by heavy objects, so we feel free to laugh.

"...physical comedy only works if you see someone get hurt and they aren't actually hurt. If someone gets hit in the face with a bat, falls down, and gets back up, it's funny. If they stay down and their jaw is wired shut in the next scene, it's really tragic..." (Chris Pratt)

I grew up watching the great physical comedian, Jerry Lewis. In this scene from Artists and Models (1955), he gets tied up in knots (see about 1 minute in). Of course there is no way his legs were actually twisted like that. Ouch! That would hurt.


Martin Short's physical comedy in Pure Luck (1991) makes me laugh...and cringe. Oh my goodness, the scene with the straw up the nose makes me wince every time.

The Three Stooges of yesteryear were masters of physical comedy, but for some reason I didn't become a fan until seeing the 2012 movie.


OUCH!

Does physical comedy put you in stitches?

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Nooooo! (Say "no" to these things!)

Thursday: Point of View


NO!
We see it over, and over again. Characters could avoid awful circumstances if they just said, "No!" Of course, the movie wouldn't be so interesting to watch if they did, but I hope, at least, we've learned from these lessons…
  • Say "no" when asked to accompany Augustus McCrae (Robert Duvall) and Woodrow Call (Tommy Lee Jones) on a cattle drive to Montana. Unless you have a death wish, then by all means, go with them. (Lonesome Dove, 1989)
  • If you come across a drug deal gone terribly, terribly wrong (read: dead bodies everywhere), tell yourself, "No. I will not take the millions and run." (No Country for Old Men, 2007)
  • When the seating hostess of a fine restaurant repeatedly calls out a name, do not pretend you are the Triplehorns. (Date Night, 2010) 
Jurassic World (2015) releases in June. This does not bode well. Apparently some people never learn from others' mistakes.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Memories linked with movies.

Wednesday: Point of View


Memories

Random memories attached to movie-going experiences.
  • My friend wringing the daylights out of her eyeglass case while we watched The Cowboys (1972). (I still dislike Bruce Dern for the role he played.)
  • Jaws (1975) came to a theater sixty miles from my theater-less town. I drove there with my car crammed full of friends. Safety in numbers. After the movie, the car wouldn't start. Lifting the hood, I leaned in to take a look. Suddenly I felt like my head was in the jaws of a shark and visualized rows of razor sharp teeth lining the hood. Freaked me out. I still cannot recall how I got the car started or how we got home. 
  • My husband and I went to The Empire Strikes Back (1980). It was a gorgeous weekend in the Bay Area so we made an outing of it and shopped at some boutiques before getting in line. As we waited, and waited, we pulled out one of our purchases... a book of Garfield cartoons. We stood side-by-side, laughing, then finally sat on the curb to continue. As I started to turn a page a voice said, "Hold on, I'm not finished." We looked up to find others hovering overhead, also enjoying the book. Laughing with strangers while in line for a much anticipated movie. I love that memory.
  • Looking at my kids with suspicion after seeing Back to the Future (1985). Were they from our future?
But looking way back to the past, I treasure this...
  • When Follow Me, Boys! (1966) came out, we lived in a town with one theater, one screen. (Yeah. I'm that old.) The theater usually played a double feature, but when a movie was real good, they played it twice each night. I sat through the first showing with friends, then went to find my parents. Dad wanted to stay and watch it a second time. Hmm, go home, or stay? I chose to remain and sat next to daddy, nibbling on white peppermint lozenges pulled from his pocket. 
I would love to read about your treasured movie-linked memories.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Take 21: The Lone Ranger

Tuesday: Take - My "take" on a film


The Lone Ranger

I watched The Lone Ranger (2013) in spite of the reviews because, well, to put it in two words: Johnny Depp. Oh, okay, I also wanted to see the cinematography. 

When the film was still in production, I read that the filmmakers wanted to avoid using CGI as much as possible. (Wish I could find that article now, for reference.) I don't know how much CGI was used, but the film contains magnificent shots. I regret not seeing it in the theater; it's big screen worthy.

The opening scene, set in 1933, surprised me. What? I thought this was a western! Turns out the story comes from a very elderly Tonto (Johnny Depp) as he tells a young boy about The Lone Ranger (Armie Hammer), adding a bit of mystery. Is this the rambling of a carnival-employed Native American? Is this legend? Or real?

If you expect a completely serious western in The Lone Ranger, you will be disappointed. The film contains numerous comedic elements, even hokey humor at times, but I got a kick out of it. Even Silver has comedic scenes, leading Tonto to say, "Something is very wrong with that horse."

According to IMDb trivia, the original plot of the film included "supernatural elements and Native American mysticism" but was later revamped. Still, a few supernatural elements remain.

Tonto describes Butch Cavendish (William Fitchner) as "an evil spirit born in the empty spaces of the desert with a hunger that cannot be satisfied and the power to throw nature out of balance." This explains some creepy rabbits. And the horse.

Glad I didn't allow nay-sayers to keep me from watching The Lone Ranger. Entertaining and fun, with stunning visuals.


Notes on content:
  • Some mild profanity, and some religious exclamations.
  • A brothel scene reveals abundant cleavage, but no sex or nudity. (Little more risqué than you might expect in a Disney film, though.)
  • The violence, for the most part, resembles older westerns where it's obvious someone is shot, maimed, or killed, but without gore. The camera rarely focusses on blood or wounds.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Stephen King quote

Monday: Dialogue, Lines, or Quotes

Stephen King Quote
On Monday the Reel Focus posts focus on inspirational or thought-provoking words, whether from a dialogue between characters, a single line, or a quote in general.

Today's quote tugs at me, how about you?
I think talent as a writer is hard-wired in, it's all there, at least the basic elements of it. You can't change it any more than you can choose whether to be right handed or left handed.          ~ Stephen King

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Jump Scene

Saturday: Outtakes - random stuff tacked on to the ending of the week.

Jump Scene

Jump scene. Not the kind of jump scene like the one in Wait Until Dark (1967) where it traumatized you so badly that you remember the flavor of gum you were chewing (sour grape) and can never chew that flavor again for the rest of your life.

And not the kind where Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969) jump over a cliff, or when Dr. Richard Kimble (Harrison Ford in The Fugitive, 1993) jumps off the dam. Not that kind of jump scene, either.

It's the crazy attempted jump scene in Canadian Bacon (1995). I don't recall anything else in the movie so I can't vouch for content or even say the plot was interesting, but I remember that scene because it was so morbidly funny.

Roy Boy (Kevin J. O'Connor), wrapped in duct tape, attempts to jump at Niagra Falls. Down below, Sheriff Bud Boomer (John Candy) and Deputy Honey (Rhea Perlman), shout, "Jump! Jump! Jump!"

Why?

"Due to the record number of laid-off workers jumping to their death at Niagra Falls, the city council has just approved an incentive program. Sheriff's deputies who actually manage to talk someone out of jumping will be getting 25 dollars. If they have to go and retrieve the body, they'll be getting fifty."


(Also, watch for the incongruous moments played for laughs.)

Friday, April 10, 2015

Incongruity for Laughs

Friday: Comic Relief 


Incongruity

When suit-wearing henchmen don aprons and prepare vegetables in the kitchen (Oscar, 1991), or a hunchback's hump switches to the opposite shoulder (Young Frankenstein, 1974), it creates comedy through incongruity--something that doesn't match up with what we expect.

Using an object in an incongruous (unexpected) way is funny. For example, when Jeff Blue (Dennis Quaid) uses a baby stroller to defeat a mugger (Undercover Blues, 1993).

Later, when the mugger, Muerte "My name is Death!" (Stanley Tucci), screams like a girl, it cracks me up. His behavior doesn't match the stereotype of a thug.

When Connie Conehead (Michelle Burke) consumes an entire foot-long sandwich in one bite, that can be expected from an alien. However, when her boyfriend, Ronnie (Chris Farley) exclaims, "Wow! My Mom's the only other woman I know who can take a sandwich like that!" I crack up. That is not what I expect him to say! (Coneheads, 1993)

Alex Hitchens' (Will Smith) love life seems incongruent (Hitch2005). He coaches men on winning the girl of their dreams, yet fails in his own dating strategies. Shouldn't the maestro of matchmaking have all the right moves? His dates with Sara (Eva Mendes) turn disastrous, creating great comedy for the film!

Here's a clip of their first date (and it only goes downhill from there):


Do you have a favorite incongruous moment in a movie?

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Happy Endings

Thursday - Point of View
Happy Endings
I watch movies for relaxation and entertainment, so I prefer happy endings. If I want reality, then I'll just look at life, since life, at times, has a way of kicking the snot out of happy endings. I don't need a movie to tell me that.

Sure, I watch films that don't turn out the way I'd like, but if it can't end happily can it at least have a hopeful ending? Hope that the characters will adjust, be resilient, become strong? (Old Yeller, 1957; Steel Magnolias, 1989)

A niece recommended Life is Beautiful (1997). Oh my goodness, I bawled so hard I literally used a dish towel to soak up the tears. I called my niece and chewed her out! The next day, glutton for punishment I guess, I watched it again and saw the beauty in the ending.

So far, I haven't had the nerve to watch Love Story (1970), The Champ (1979), or Beaches (1988) a second time.

Do you prefer movies with happy endings? Is there a tear-jerker you can't bear to see again?

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Gagger Card

Wednesday - Point of View 


Gagger Card

While serving in the U.S. Navy, my husband was a submariner.  Every patrol, the entertainment committee designated certain videos as "gaggers" and if a sailor sat through the entire movie (witnessed by others) he could get his "gagger card" punched. When the card was filled (8 holes punched), he received a prize.

We still have a nice duffel bag my husband earned with a gagger card.

So, when a movie stinks and manages to suck away two hours of my life, I groan, "I need my gagger card punched!"

I won't name the gagger movies, but I will mention three films that I initially thought were gaggers, but later learned to appreciate.

  • ¡Three Amigos! (1986) I watched this movie alone (hubby out to sea) and it seemed lame. Little did I know that my husband also watched it during patrol and thought it was the funniest movie ever. When he returned, he insisted I give it another try. We laughed so hard! It's been a favorite, often quoted, and one of the few movies we own.
  • Groundhog Day (1993)I initially thought this was boring. "Okay, I get it. He wakes up on the same day over and over and over and over. Let's move on!" Yet, I watched it yearly (around February 2, of course) because my husband loves it. Seeing it over and over and over, I finally recognized the value of its message, and it, too, earned a spot on our DVD shelf.
  • Napoleon Dynamite (2004)Friends convinced us to see this. We were unimpressed through most of the film, then towards the end (when Napoleon dances on stage in his worn-out moon boots) it finally clicked. We caught the humor, and watched it again, roaring with laughter. "Gosh!"

Do you have a favorite movie that you initially considered a gagger?


Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Take 20: Flawless

Tuesday: Take - My "take" on a film 

"Flawless"

Browsing Netflix for film titles with the letter F, Flawless (2007) caught my eye. Michael Caine and Demi Moore together in a jewel heist? This I had to see. And I'm glad I did.

Not a fast paced thriller (after all, the thief is an aged janitor), but the story pulled me in and kept me there. I was hooked the moment Laura Quinn (Demi Moore) states, "I haven't set foot in this city as a free woman for over 40 years" then reveals a huge honking diamond (168 carets, 58 facets) and admits, "I stole it. From London Diamond."

The film continues with her story.

In 1960, the much younger Laura struggles to advance any further in her management career with London Diamond, the world's number one diamond corporation. Passed over for promotion six times in three years by men less qualified, she tries to deal with the frustration.

Enter Mr. Hobbs (Michael Caine), a night janitor who quietly goes about his work while absorbing the inner workings of Lon Di. He's aware of Laura's ambitions and disappointments. He's also aware the upper management plans to fire her, and uses that information to pull her into his plan to steal some diamonds. Just a small amount of diamonds, mind you, worth two million pounds to split between them. An amount the corporation, sole supplier of diamonds to six continents, would not miss.

His plan is flawless.

The movie, with an engaging story, strong characters, superb cinematography, was nearly flawless, too.


Notes on content:
  • No sex, nudity, or violence.
  • Infrequent vain references to Deity.
  • And one f-word thrown in, completely out of character for that time period. It's doubtful Sir Milton Kendrick Ahstoncroft, a wealthy British gentleman, would use that word in the presence of a woman, especially in 1960.  

Monday, April 6, 2015

Emerson Quote

Monday: Dialogue, Lines, or Quotes


Emerson: Earth

Ralph Waldo Emerson: Earth laughs in flowers.





(The A to Z Challenge recommends 100-300 words for each post. This video has few words, but I spent hours on its creation, and if a picture is worth a thousand words, well…)

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Happy Easter


This short video has beautiful cinematography and a marvelous message.

He lives! Happy Easter!



Saturday, April 4, 2015

Did you know?

Saturday: Outtakes - random stuff tacked on to the ending of the week.

Did You Know?

"Did You Know?" is my favorite section to browse on IMDb (Internet Movie Database).  Found by scrolling down the selected movie page, or by using the Quick Links on the sidebar (and clicking on Explore More), it contains:
  • Trivia - tidbits of information or background about the film, actors, characters
  • Goofs - mistakes or lack of continuity found in the film
  • Crazy Credits (including credit cookies!) - information about the opening and end credits
  • Quotes - selections of the film's dialogue
  • Alternate Versions - "scenes originally scripted and partly filmed but not included in the final cut"
  • Connections
    • Version of… (previous movies with that story)
    • Remade as… (other movies later made with that story)
    • References… (references within the film to other movies)
    • Referenced in … (other media, films, tv shows, referencing that movie)
    • Featured in… (specials, award shows, reviews)
    • Spoofed in… (shows creating a humorous imitation of the film or a scene)
  • Soundtracks - details about each song
Did you know about the Did You Know section?

Friday, April 3, 2015

Credit Cookies

Friday: Comic Relief

Credit Cookies

My sister-in-law patiently sat with me to watch a movie's end credits. Having gone to the  cinema with me a few times, she was not surprised by my desire to linger. She was, however, surprised and delighted when this time there was a credit cookie, or a "monk's reward" because it "takes monklike devotion to sit through the credits to get to it." (quoting Serdor Yegulalp in Ebert's Bigger Little Movie Glossary, by Roger Ebert)

Realizing she was new to the experience, I asked, "Why did you think I always sit through the credits?"

Her reply, "I thought you were looking for names of friends."

It reminded me of The Great Muppet Caper (1981). Flying in a hot air balloon, Kermit, Gonzo, and Fozzie observe the opening credits.

GONZO
Gee a lot of people worked on this movie!

KERMIT
Oh, this is nothing. 
Wait till you see the end credits.

FOZZIE
Nobody reads those names anyway, do they?

KERMIT
Sure. They all have families.

Actually, once in awhile I do see names of friends in the credits, but... (and please don't tell them) I watch the credits for the funny stuff.

Here are some favorites:

Mr. Popper's Penguins (2011):
No penguins were harmed in the making of this film. Jim Carrey, on the other hand, was bitten mercilessly. But he had it coming.

Disney's Frozen (2013):
The views and opinions expressed by Kristoff in the film that all men eat their own boogers are solely his own and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of The Walt Disney Company or the filmmakers. Neither the Walt Disney Company nor the filmmakers make any representation of the accuracy of any such views and opinions.

Ferris Bueller's Day Off (1986):
The credit cookie clip…



If you have time (a tad more than 3 minutes), watch all of the title credits for Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975). Since it's at the beginning of the movie, it might not be a credit cookie, but it's still comedy in the credits, and the funniest part of the entire movie.


So…the movie ended, your bladder begs attention, and the credits roll. Want to know if there's a reason to stick around? There's an app for that: Anything After

I don't need the app, yet, because I have a tough bladder and monk-like devotion… I hold on to the very end, even if it ends up cookie-less.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Beauty

Thursday: Point of View

BEAUTY

Beauty is a quality in a person or thing that exalts the mind or spirit. (Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary, 1977.) That's the type of beauty I seek in film, art, music, books.

Beautiful images in film make my spirit soar. Watching Red Beard (1965) gives the same reaction as listening to exquisite music. The shots are so artistically composed that nearly every frame of the movie could be used as a still photograph in a gallery.

Films with a beautiful message also exalt the mind.  Even when the theme points out pain, injustice, suffering, if it shines a light on qualities such as perseverance, forgiveness, hope, redemption, it can lift the soul. (Consider Life is Beautiful, 1997)

In his documentary Why Beauty Matters (2009), philosopher Roger Scruton expresses, "Beauty is more than subjective; it is a universal need."… "I think we are losing beauty and there is a danger that with it, we will lose the meaning of life."

Because film reaches the senses through multiple ways…images, movement, music, dialogue…it is a powerful art. I applaud filmmakers who use that power to exalt and add beauty to our lives.


Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Audience

Wednesday: Point of View 



Audience.




"There are films that cost a lot of money that might be decent films. But if they don't perform in that first weekend or two, they're gone." (actor, producer, director, Grant Heslov)

That's a sad thought. Life gets busy and I often don't make it to the cinema within the first few weeks of a movie's release. Movies need an audience, and certainly voting with my pocketbook is one way to promote quality, decent, films.

Referencing films which failed to find a large audience, film critic Leonard Maltin wrote 151 Best Movies You've Never Seen. "I see more bad films than good, but the best part of my job is leading people to worthwhile movies they might otherwise overlook."

The book gives insights to a wide range of unfamiliar films, but Maltin states, "I don't present these as forsaken masterpieces: they're just good movies that I'm glad I saw."

I was amazed how many titles I'd never heard of! There were only three movies I'd seen (and loved, by the way).

I'm half way through the book, researching each film, checking parent guides, and so far I've added the following titles to my Want To See list.

I am not the audience for a majority of the films Maltin recommends, but hopefully, as I continue combing through his book, my list will grow.

Do you have a favorite little-known film? I'd love to hear about it!