Sunday, August 25, 2013

Ben Affleck cast as Batman in Superman/Batman film

Ben Affleck has been confirmed as playing Batman in Zack Snyder's sequel to Man of Steel. It's a very interesting choice, and I don't think Affleck would have been the first name that would pop into my mind for who I would like to see play Bruce Wayne/Batman, but I'm still excited to see how he will do. It doesn't help his case that he was already in one superhero movie in the form of Daredevil that wasn't such a big hit, but hopefully this will be different.

I have to say, though, that while I'm definitely curious as to how Affleck will play the role, I can't help but think I'd rather see him direct an eventual Justice League movie than simply play a role in the movie. Sadly, that probably won't happen.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Movie Trivia Tuesday: The Apartment

Recently, I had the pleasure of seeing The Apartment, staring Jack Lemon, Shirley MacClain and Fred MacMurray for the first time and was stunned by how much I loved it. The story was interesting and well written for the screen with an interesting concept, the performances were all fantastic, everything about it was just wonderful. Considering how blown away I was by the quality of that movie, I couldn't help but chose it for this week's trivia.

  • The name on the door next to Baxter's office is T.W.Plews. Tom Plews was the prop master

  • The office Christmas party scene was actually filmed on December 23, 1959, so as to catch everybody in the proper holiday mood. Billy Wilder filmed almost all of it on the first take, stating to an observer, "I wish it were always this easy. Today, I can just shout 'action' and stand back"

  • This is the first Best Picture Oscar winner to specifically refer to a previous winner, in this case two of them. First Grand Hotel, which Baxter attempts to watch on television but is too long delayed because of commercials. Bud's boss also refers to Bud and Fran having "a lost weekend" together in Bud's apartment, a reference to Billy Wilder's earlier Oscar winner, The Lost Weekend

  • In 2007, the American Film Institute ranked this as the #80 Greatest Movie of All Time

  • The nasal spray used by Jack Lemmon was actually milk. Real nasal spray would not have shown up on camera

  • Billy Wilder claimed that he and I.A.L. Diamond already had Jack Lemmon in mind to play Baxter when they wrote the screenplay. In an interview years later, Lemmon confirmed this

  • The studio wanted Groucho Marx for the role of Dr. Dreyfuss, but Billy Wilder said no, stating that he wanted an actor with more dramatic weight for the part

  • C.C. Baxter is just a poor accountant. But inside his apartment are two authentic Tiffany Studios lamps, worth hardly anything when the film was made, but now worth between $30,000 and $40,000 each

  • The film's classic last line was thought up by the writers at the last minute on-set.   


Thursday, July 25, 2013

Review: The Heat

Buddy cop movies, or just buddy movies in general, are truly a hit or miss affair. For every Leathal Weapon or 48 Hours there is a Rush Hour and The Man. The Heat, the new Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy comedy, falls somewhere in the middle.

The Heat stars Sandra Bullock as a no nonsense FBI agent who is forced to team up with a sloppy, foul-mouthed Boston cop in order to get to the bottom of a crime. Throughout the film, there differences in style constantly clash, leading to a variety of hilarious situations.

The Heat stands out as being a very funny movie to come out in a summer that has been largely lacking in laughs, and it is a welcome change of pace.  It also helps that Bullock and McCarthy are genuinely a joy to watch play off one another.

Bullock, specifically, makes a positive impression as the straight woman of the two. I was thoroughly impressed by her ability to successfully deliver comedy. On many occasions, I felt that she even overshadowed the more comedically-minded McCarthey in her ability to successfully land a joke and just be funny in general. A few particularly humorous scenes, one in a night club and another in a bar, are great at illustrating Bullocks obvious comedic talent.

While my praise for Bullock is higher, I won’t take away too much from McCarthey, as she did do well with her rough, trash-talking character.  It’s certainly a step up for her from something like Identity Thief. Hopefully she will chose parts with better humor like this, possibly leading her on a path back to the glory days of Bridesmaids.

And speaking of the humor in the movie, I give credit to the writers for crafting a slew of hysterical moments, as there are many jokes peppered throughout the movie, and almost all of them hit really well. This is something that can’t be said for some other comedies in recent months.

It may not be a comedy classic, and the plot may be a bit thin, but you’ll be too busy laughing at The Heat to care about any of its flaws or shortcomings, and it serves as a wonderful pick me up from an otherwise disappointing summer movie season that is otherwise almost completely devoid of laughs.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Man of Steel sequel to be a Batman/Superman crossover

A couple days ago, it was announced that the next Man of Steel movie will include another familiar face in the DC universe, Batman. It took me a while to gather my thoughts as to what I thought of this news, and I'm still not totally sure. On the surface, it seems like a really cool idea, but several factors make it potentially problematic.

First, the fact that the most recent Superman movie was pretty darn boring doesn't bode well for any sequel to that franchise, especially considering the same writer and directors are coming back, so it could just be more of the same boring content. Hopefully the sequel will make things a whole lot more interesting and less explode-y and wall-to-wall action than the first installment.

Second, reinventing Batman is going to be a really tall order in the wake of the Christopher Nolan Batman storyline. It's totally possible that there are other director/actor combinations that could work to make another great Batman movie, but it really depends heavily on who they get to take on the roll of the Caped Crusader, considering Christian Bale won't be coming back, either. Whoever they get, it's going to be very difficult to best the quality of what came before.

Finally, I think the movies believability rests on how they treat the relationship of Batman to Superman. Will it be a rivalry? A team up? If it's the former, it seems like it will be a lot harder to believably pull off, because how could Batman be any match for Superman? I think the two teaming up somehow is the only logical way this kind of storyline could be executed. Plus, they have to get on the same side eventually if things are supposed to be leading up to a Justice League movie.

I'm still excited and intrigued by the prospect of a Batman/Superman crossover, I just sincerely hope the concept is treated respectfully and, as much as a superhero movie can be, believably. We'll find out in 2015. What a year that will be for movies.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Movie Trivia Tuesday: Chinatown

Chinatown, in which Jack Nicholson plays one of his greatest roles as detective Jake Gittes, will be celebrating its 40th anniversary next year, and even after all that time has passed, it still holds up as a fantastic neo-noir story. In addition to Nicholson's stellar performance, it also features excellent direction from Roman Polanski and award-winning writing from Robert Towne. Let's learn some more about this gem in this week's Tuesday Movie Trivia.

  • In 2007, the American Film Institute ranked Chinatown as the #21 Greatest Movie of All Time.

  • The movie's line "Forget it, Jake, it's Chinatown." was voted as the #74 movie quote by the American Film Institute

  • After several takes that never looked quite right, Faye Dunaway told Jack Nicholson to actually slap her. He did, and the scene made it into the movie.

  • Jake Gittes was named after Jack Nicholson's friend, producer Harry Gittes.

  • Chinatown was the first part of a planned trilogy written by Robert Towne about J.J. Gittes and L.A. The second part, The Two Jakes, was directed by Jack Nicholson in 1990. No third movie was ever made.

  • The original script for Chinatown was over 180 pages.

  • Chinatown was the last movie Roman Polanski filmed in the United States.

  • Chinatown was nominated for 11 Academy Awards: Best Writing, Original Screenplay; Best Actor in a Leading Role, Jack Nicholson; Best Actress in a Leading Role, Faye Dunaway; Best Art Direction-Set Direction; Best Cinematography; Best Costume Design; Best Director, Roman Polanski; Best Film Editing; Best Music, Original Dramatic Score; Best Sound; Best Picture. It only won Best Writing, Original Screenplay.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Movie Trivia Tuesday: Spaceballs

This week at the wonderful Garden Theatre in Winter Garden, there will be a screening of Mel Brooks 1987 Space movie spoof Spaceballs. While it's not my favorite of Brooks' movies (that would most definitely be Young Frankenstein, which I would call a comedy masterpiece), Spaceballs is a lot of fun, and worth a watch. It's also worth talking about in this week's Movie Trivia Tuesday.

  • President Skroob's name is an anagram of Mel Brooks, who plays him.

  • John Candy ad-libbed the line, "Oh, that's gonna leave a mark," after standing up without undoing his seat belt. 

  • Dark Helmet's voice changing whenever his face was covered was Rick Moranis's idea.

  • One of a handful of movies (Caddyshack II, Big, and Beetlejuice) to contain the F-word and still get a PG rating in the PG-13 era.

  • It took Mel Brooks six months to write the script.

  • The license plate on Princess Vespa's Mercedes reads, "Spoil'd Rott'n I."

  • Mel Brooks sent the script to George Lucas and was concerned that he would be offended, but Lucas called Brooks and gave him his trust after seeing Blazing Saddles and Young Frankenstein.

  • According to Mel Brooks, this is one of the most expensive movies he has ever made: $25 million, with Dracula: Dead and Loving It a close second at $22 million. By contrast,The Producers cost less than $1 million to produce.

  • A full face mask resembling a wrinkled bulldog was originally constructed for the character of Barf, but Mel Brooks quipped that 'if they were going to hide John Candy behind a mask, he might as well hire someone else for half the price'. A nose and upper lip piece was tried next, which Candy approved but again Brooks did not. They finally settled on animatronic ears connected to a hairpiece, a small nose application and a patch over one eye just like the dog from the 'Our Gang' shorts.


Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Movie Trivia Tuesday: Citizen Kane

Sorry for the absense for the second half of June, readers, but I am back to divulge more awesome and fascinating trivia for beloved movies. This week, I am concentrating on the MOST revered movie of all time according to many, many critics and lists of movie rankings, Citizen Kane.

  • Despite all the publicity, the film was a box office flop and was quickly consigned to the RKO vaults. At 1941's Academy Awards the film was booed every time one of its nine nominations was announced. It was only re-released for the public in the mid-1950s.   

  • Xanadu's design is based on William Randolph Hearst's elaborate home in San Simeon and Mont St Michel in France.

  • Orson Welles always claimed that this picture was not the biography of one specific individual, but a composite of characters from that era in America. Though universally recognized as based on the life of William Randolph Hearst, there were also elements in the story that applied to the life of Chicago utilities magnate Samuel Insulll.

  • The American Film Institute's poll ranked the film #1 greatest American movie of all time in 1998, and again on the anniversary list from 2007.
  • Orson Welles chipped his anklebone halfway through production and had to direct for 2 weeks from a wheelchair. When he was called upon to stand up onscreen, he wore metal braces. The injury occurred in the scene where Kane chases Gettys down the stairs and Welles tripped.
  • The original nitrate negatives are gone; they were lost in a fire during the 1970s.
  • The movie's line "Rosebud." was voted as the #17 movie quote by the American Film Institute
  • In the scene where Jedediah confronts Kane, Joseph Cotten had stayed awake for 24 hours before the shoot so as to finish in order to start a play in New York. He makes an error and says "dramatic crimiticism," a flub that Cotten inadvertently made in rehearsals that Welles decided to use.
  • The audience that watches Kane make his speech is, in fact, a still photo. To give the illusion of movement, hundreds of holes were pricked in with a pin, and lights moved about behind it.
  • For this movie Orson Welles, along with cinematographer Gregg Toland, pioneered "deep focus", a technique that keeps every object in the foreground, center and background in simultaneous focus. This brought a sense of depth to the two-dimensional world of movies.
  • Citizen Kane was nominated for 8 Oscars: Best Sound, Recording; Best Picture; Best Music, Scoring of a Dramatic Picture; Best Film Editing; Best Director, Orson Welles; Best Cinematography, Black and White; Best Art Direction-Interior Direction, Black and White; Best Actor in a Leading Role, Orson Welles; and Best Writing, Original Screenplay.
  • It only took home one Oscar for Best Writing, Original Screenplay.