MOV085: “How Much For That Mogwai In The Window?”

It’s 85th reel of COL Movies, and Carlos joins the boys in on the fun! They start in the past with the non-traditional Christmas classic, “Gremlins”. From one Spielberg film to another, they head to the theater to check out his first animated film “The Adventures of Tin Tin: The Secret of the Unicorn”. For the future, they review the new trailer for “The Dark Knight Rises”. Along with some updated movie news, it’s the 85th reel of COL Movies…”How much for that Mogwai in the window?”

News:

The Past: Gremlins (1984)
Rotten Tomatoes: 79% Fresh, 70% Audience

Director: Joe Dante

Starring: Zach Galligan, Phoebe Cates, Hoyt Axton, Howie Mandell (VO-Gizmo), Frank Welker (VO-Stripe)

Trivia:

  • Originally planned and scheduled for a Christmas release, the film was rushed into production shortly after Warner Bros. found out that it had no major competition against Paramount’s Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom or Columbia’s Ghost Busters for the summer movie season
  • Generally credited (along with Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom) to influence the MPAA to create the PG-13 rating, as many felt the scenes of violence in both movies were too much for a PG rating, but not enough for an R rating.
  • This was the first movie in years to use Warner Bros’ “shield” logo
  • In Cantonese Chinese, mogwai means devil, demon or gremlin. The Mandarin pronunciation is mogui
  • The set for Kingston Falls is the same one used for Back to the Future. Both movies were filmed in the Universal Studios backlot.
  • Though he followed the basic outline of the script, Hoyt Axton is said to have improvised nearly all his lines.
  • After watching his earlier short films, Steven Spielberg considered Tim Burton to direct the film. But decided against it because at the time Burton had never directed a full feature length film.
  • Jon Pertwee and Mako were both seriously considered for the role of Mr. Wing.
  • According to Joe Dante and Michael Finnell, the original rough cut of the film ran 2 hours and 40 minutes.
  • In this film, the Amblin Entertainment logo makes its first on-screen appearance.
  • Within the story, Gizmo was capable of singing or humming. Jerry Goldsmith wrote Gizmo’s song as well, but Howie Mandel never sang it. A girl member of Goldsmith’s congregation was hired to sing Gizmo’s song, although she had never worked in films before.
  • The time machine prop from Time after Time can be seen behind Rand Peltzer when he’s on the phone with his wife, while attending the convention.
  • Chris Columbus’ script went through a few drafts before a shooting script was finalized. His original version had the creatures killing the dog and cutting off the mom’s head and tossing it down the stairs. These elements were never shot due to the fact that both, Joe Dante and Warner Bros. wanted the movie to be more family oriented.
  • Mr. Hanson, the science teacher, originally died with dozens of hypodermic needles stuck in his face. But, by request from Steven Spielberg, this scene was re-shot it with just a single needle in the buttocks
  • At the end, Gizmo pulls a window blind which exposes Stripe to the sunlight. But, originally, there are two window blinds and Gizmo pull the first one and then Billy pulls the second one. This scene was edited because Steven Spielberg believed that Gizmo was the hero of the movie and not Billy and therefore Gizmo would be the one responsible for the demise of Stripe.

Talking Points:

  • Non traditional Christmas movies (this movie was a summer release)
  • Intended audience and the addition of the PG-13 rating
  • The Logic Flaw
  • Practical Effects – hold up? (Creepy skeleton Stripe)
  • Voice actors (Howie Mandel & Michael Winslow…among others)

What We’ve Learned:

  • Having cable is not a successful way to pick up girls
  • Gremlins have perfect pitch
  • Suicide rates are always highest during the holidays
  • The smaller the animal the faster the heartbeat
  • Don’t expose them to light, Don’t get them wet and never feed them after midnight.

Trailer:

Recommendations:
Jeff: An incredibly classic movie but I didn’t feel like it held up. Still feels very dated. But getting past that, still love it. Made me want to watch the sequel.
Ray: This is one of my favorite non-traditional Christmas movies – I think its worth watching, but make sure you watch it yourself before deciding if if its appropriate for younger children to watch.
Steve: A great film. I still have my Gizmo 🙂 I love that it’s practical and even if it doesn’t stand up to the test of time, it’s a classic.
Carlos: This gets violent, and subversive, even for a well-known piece of holiday counter-programming. It has pieces of bitter chocolate even in all the Xmas happy.

The Present: The Adventures of Tin Tin: The Secret of The Unicorn
Rotten Tomatoes: 75% Fresh, 80% Audience

Director: Steven Spielberg

Starring: Jamie Bell, Andy Serkis, Daniel Craig, Nick Frost, Simon Pegg

Trivia:

  • Thomas Brodie-Sangster was originally set to play the titular character, but had to drop out due to scheduling conflicts. Jamie Bell, who had worked with Peter Jackson on King Kong, then came aboard to play Tintin.
  • The first animated film directed by Steven Spielberg.
  • In the early 1980s, Steven Spielberg hired E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial writer Melissa Mathison to write a draft of the script. Her script featured a battle in Africa between Tintin and ivory poachers.
  • After Simon Pegg had completed How to Lose Friends & Alienate People, Steven Spielberg invited him to the film’s set and offered him the role of Thomson.
  • Originally, Steven Spielberg was going to do a live-action adaptation of Tintin, and called Peter Jackson to ask if his VFX company Weta Digital would work on the film, in particular creating a CGI Snowy. Jackson, as it turned out, was a longtime fan of Tintin, and convinced Spielberg that live action would not do justice to the comic books, and that motion capture was the best way of representing Hergé’s world of Tintin. However, Snowy would still be CGI.
  • Steven Spielberg has always shot his films traditionally, but since he was going to film what he saw was an animated film he didn’t mind shooting it digitally.
  • Claude Berri and Roman Polanski were interested in directing.
  • Screenwriter Steven Moffat claims he was “love-bombed” by Steven Spielberg into writing the script for this film, with Spielberg promising to shield him from studio interference with his writing.
  • Steven Moffat finished a draft of the script, but could not polish it because of the 2007-2008 Writers Guild of America strike, and afterwards becoming executive producer of Doctor Who. Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson amiably allowed him to leave and fulfill his duty to the series (Jackson being a fan of the Doctor), and brought in Edgar Wright and Joe Cornish to rewrite Moffat’s draft.
  • This is Steven Spielberg’s first comic-book adaptation. He had earlier been considered to do Superman.
  • Steven Spielberg has been an avid fan of ‘The Adventures of Tintin’ comic books since 1981, when a review compared Raiders of the Lost Ark to Tintin. His secretary bought him French-language editions of each book, but Spielberg did not have to understand them: he immediately fell in love with its art. Meanwhile, ‘Tintin’ creator Hergé became a fan of Spielberg (reports say he “thought Spielberg was the only person who could ever do Tintin justice.”)
  • When the film was in development in 1984, Steven Spielberg wanted Jack Nicholson to play Captain Haddock.
  • This is Andy Serkis’s third collaboration with Peter Jackson, as well as his fourth motion-capture role (he had earlier played the creatures Gollum and King Kong in features directed by Jackson and Caesar in Rise of the Planet of the Apes). Sometime after being cast, Serkis joked that he was worried Peter Jackson would cast him as Tintin’s dog Snowy.
  • To prepare for his role as Captain Haddock, Andy Serkis read the majority of the “Tintin” comics. He later commented that they had a surreal quality, similar to the Monty Python films.
  • ‘Danny deVito’ was considered for the role of Senor Oliveira de Figueira, but the character was cut from the script.
  • Daniel Craig (Red Rackham) had collaborated with Toby Jones in Infamous and Jamie Bell in Defiance, and appeared in the Steven Spielberg film Munich.
  • According to Steven Spielberg, when shooting he always keeps one eye closed when framing a shot, so that he can visualize the film in 2D (“the way viewers would”). But on this film he had both of his eyes open, as it was 3D and he wanted to treat the film like live-action.
  • During filming, Guillermo del Toro, Stephen Daldry and David Fincher paid a visit to the set.
  • Steven Spielberg’s cinematographer Janusz Kaminski was brought on to act as a lighting consultant for Weta, as Jackson wanted the film to look “film noir-ish, and very atmospheric.”
  • Steven Spielberg shot his portion of the film in 32 days (taking up March 2009). Peter Jackson was present for the first week of filming, and supervised the rest of the shoot via a specially made iChat videoconferencing program. Simon Pegg said Jackson’s voice would “be coming over the Tannoy like God.”
  • Steven Spielberg enjoyed working with the virtual camera so much, he did a lot of his own camera work in the movie.
  • Michael Kahn has collaborated with Steven Spielberg as an editor for over 30 years. He has always cut his movies on a Moviola and KEM when working with Spielberg. This will be his first movie that he will cut digitally with Spielberg using Avid (though he has cut movies digitally before, such as Twister).
  • Steven Spielberg is the first Oscar-winning director to direct a Nickelodeon film. Peter Jackson (the sequel’s director) will be the second.
  • Steven Spielberg has had the rights to Tintin since 1983.
  • This is Nickelodeon’s first involvement with Tintin in 20 years. The Nickelodeon channel originally aired The Adventures of Tintin.
  • The Crab with the Golden Claws’ is the most frequently filmed Tintin adventure. It was previously adapted to the screen in 1947 as a stop-motion puppet film, and adapted twice for TV: Once in 1959 and again in 1990.
  • During the final dock scene, a bunch of cans with a crab symbol falls from a crate. These are the same canned crabs that serve as a McGuffin in the original “Crab with the Golden Claws” album.
  • The crab with the golden claws from the Tintin tale of the same name can be seen on display in Sheik Salaad’s palace.
  • At the beginning of the movie, when Tintin is having his likeness drawn, the other likenesses posted in the background are of characters featured in various Tintin books and as shown in the inside covers of every Tintin book.
  • The credits, especially the opening ones, are in the same typeface as the books’ titles.
  • The Adventures of Tintin was released 30 years to the day Indiana Jones was released in 1981, also directed by Steven Spielberg
  • The movie fittingly starts with a closeup of a painter’s palette. On studiobriefing.net, Steven Spielberg said of his experience filming Tintin: “I did feel like a painter in a way, and that was exciting for me.”
  • The ship in the bottle and the Unicorn are based upon the “Soleil Royal”, a large French ship of the line that was launched in 1669.
  • The opening credits feature several references to Tintin books (such as the iconic rocket from ‘Destination Moon’). The departure board shown also features destinations from Tintin books.
  • The framed newspapers on the walls of Tintin’s apartment feature headlines and photos that recall his other adventures. Example: The headline “Tintin Breaks Up Crime Ring,” with a picture of several Egyptian mummy cases, refers to “Cigars of the Pharaoh.” The headline “Tintin Recovers Valuable Sceptre” refers to “King Ottokar’s Sceptre.”

Talking Points:

  • “First Look In 3D” at AMC
  • The Uncanny Valley, physics, story elements
  • Indiana Jones
  • Camera Motion
  • The Violence (gun play) and alcohol use

What We Learned:

  • American = all hair, oil, and no socks
  • The aggressive ones always seem to be the first to roll over on their backs
  • Police work is not all glamour and gunfights
  • There are worse things than sobering up
  • Realist is just another word for failure

Trailer:

Recommendations :
Jeff: I really liked this film. Something about the motion capture made things seem a little weird but it still ended up being fantastic. Reminds me of adventure movies like Raiders of the Lost Ark.
Ray: It was a fun film..although it dipped and weaved in and out of the uncanny valley – Way more violent then I expected it to be, so be aware before taking the kids. Overall though I’d recommend people go see it. 3D was done well but not necessary.
Steve: Didn’t hate it. I actually thought it looked better than other films, like the most recent Indiana Jones and Pirates movies. If think they should have done Young Indiana Jones like this. Didn’t particularly feel it was a “kids” movie…perhaps more PG 13, especially with the violence (swords, guns, etc).
Carlos: Probably the best directed of the cgi animated films. The camera roves around like some hyper but talented 14 year old. It’s an impressive achievement with some sincere emotional hits.

The Future: The Dark Knight Rises

Release: July 20, 2012

Directors: Christopher Nolan

Starring: Christian Bale, Tom Hardy, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Gary Oldman, Anne Hathaway, Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman, Marion Cotillard

Summary:

Eight years after the events of The Dark Knight, the terrorist leader Bane arrives in Gotham City, pushing it and its police force to their limits, forcing its former hero Batman to resurface after taking the fall for Harvey Dent’s crimes.

Trivia:

  • Christopher Nolan is the first director to complete a full trilogy of Batman films, but the second to direct a full trilogy of films on one superhero (after Sam Raimi completed his Spider-Man films).
  • Christian Bale has stated that he would not play Batman if Robin appeared anywhere in the trilogy. Christopher Nolan agreed not to include Robin as it would undermine the dark tone of his series.
  • Christian Bale is the first live action actor to portray Batman/Bruce Wayne in three Batman films. Kevin Conroy has played the character in seven animated films as of 2011 (including Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker).
  • Cinematographer Wally Pfister has expressed interest in shooting the entirety of the film in the IMAX format, as both Pfister and Christopher Nolan have expressed distaste for shooting the film in 3-D. Ultimately, the film would feature approximately 50 minutes of IMAX footage, while the rest was shot in a combination of 35mm and 70mm, as IMAX cameras proved to be too noisy for shooting the films dialogue scenes.
  • Eva Green, Angelina Jolie Blake Lively, Rhona Mitra, Charlize Theron, Abbie Cornish, Vera Farmiga, Jessica Biel, Natalie Portman, Gemma Arterton, Kate Mara, Charlotte Riley, Emily Blunt and Keira Knightley all auditioned for the role of Selina Kyle. After the initial audition process, Biel and Mara all screen tested. Ultimately, Anne Hathaway won the role.
  • Kate Winslet, Naomi Watts, Rachel Weisz and Marion Cotillard were considered to play Miranda Tate before Cotillard finally got the role.
  • Robin Williams was rumored to play the role of Hugo Strange.
  • There was much speculation in the press when Anne Hathaway was announced as Selina Kyle if the actress would actually portray Kyle’s costumed alter-ego, Catwoman. In an interview with Oprah Winfrey following her stint as host of the Academy Awards, Hathaway let slip that her character indeed would don the Catwoman costume.
  • According to Gary Oldman, Christopher Nolan told the actors the ending of the film verbally to avoid any leaks.
  • One of the reasons why Christopher Nolan cast Tom Hardy as Bane was because of his performance in the film RocknRolla. Hardy stated that he thought he was cast because of his role in Bronson. He arrived on set only to learn that Nolan has never even seen Bronson.
  • Around 10,000 extras were used to shoot the Gotham Rogues scene in Heinz Field. Some of the Pittsburgh Steelers played football players, including Hines Ward, who played himself.
  • Chloë Grace Moretz and Jennifer Lawrence auditioned for Juno Temple’s role.
  • According to The Hollywood Reporter, Anne Hathaway’s stunt double broke one of the IMAX cameras when she crashed the Batpod into it. This marks the second time an IMAX camera has been destroyed on a Christopher Nolan Batman film – a previous camera was smashed when filming the Joker’s underground truck chase in The Dark Knight.
  • Joseph Gordon-Levitt , Leonardo DiCaprio , James Holzier, Ryan Gosling, and Mark Ruffalo were considered to play John Blake. Gordon-Levitt was ultimately cast.
  • Anne Hathaway, who plays Catwoman, had been cast as Black Cat (Felicia Hardy) in The Amazing Spider-Man in 2010, which at that time was under Sam Raimi’s direction as “Spider-Man 4” and was going to feature the Vulture and Black Cat.
  • The character of Bane in this film is more reverent and closer to his comic-book counterpart, unlike Batman & Robin, which reduced him to a mindless henchman. In the comic Books, Bane is a general, a strategist and a one-man army, literally forcing Batman to meet his match (and upon their first encounter it would turn out to be the case).
  • According to Christopher Nolan, Bane was chosen as the film’s main antagonist “to test Batman mentally as well as physically.”
  • To prepare for her role as Catwoman, Anne Hathaway worked out five days a week on a regime that involved vigorous exercise, stunt training and dancing. She called it her most physically demanding role to date.
  • To prepare for his role as Bane, Tom Hardy gained 30 pounds in weight, and studied various fighting styles to use in the film.
  • Tom Hardy described Bane as an absolute terrorist: “He’s brutal, but also incredibly clinical in the fact that he has a result-based and oriented fighting style. The style is heavy-handed, heavy-footed… it’s nasty. It’s not about fighting, it’s about carnage!”
  • After The Dark Knight released, Aaron Eckhart expressed interest in returning as Harvey “Two-Face” Dent, as the film had left his role relatively open-ended. Christopher Nolan stated that Dent was definitely dead, and that his death would leave lasting repercussions across Gotham.
  • Composer Hans Zimmer collected online recordings of chanting to incorporate in the film’s score.
  • This is the third Batman film to feature Catwoman after Batman and Batman Returns.
  • Anne Hathaway previously appeared in Alice in Wonderland, which was directed by Batman/Batman Returns director Tim Burton and featured the previous Alfred, Michael Gough in his final role before his death.
  • Marion Cotillard previously appeared in Big Fish, which was directed by Batman/Batman Returns director Tim Burton. Danny DeVito played The Penguin in Batman Returns which, like this film, also features Catwoman.
  • Reunites Inception stars Tom Hardy, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Michael Caine, Cillian Murphy and Marion Cotillard.
  • Like Batman Returns and Batman & Robin, not only does this feature a female villain, but the villain is portrayed by an Oscar nominated actress. Michelle Pfeiffer (Batman Returns) was nominated for Dangerous Liaisons, The Fabulous Baker Boys and Love Field. Uma Thurman (Batman & Robin) was nominated for Pulp Fiction. Anne Hathaway (this film) was nominated for Rachel Getting Married.
  • This is the fifth film in a row that Christopher Nolan has worked with Michael Caine. The other films were Batman Begins, The Prestige, The Dark Knight, and Inception.
  • Is set eight years after the events of The Dark Knight.
  • With their appearances in this movie, Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman, Cillian Murphy and Gary Oldman will have each appeared in three Batman movies. Only Michael Gough and Pat Hingle have done the same thing.
  • Christopher Nolan picked Bane as the main villain. Coincidentally, with no known relation, the name of one of the creators of Bane for the comic books is Graham Nolan.
  • In the comics, Bane carried an apparatus that contains a steroid that amplifies his strength and fighting ability. In the film, the apparatus he carries contains an anesthetic as he is in constant chronic pain.
  • The filmmakers cite the “Batman” comics ‘The Dark Knight Returns’ (an aged Batman operates in a future Gotham), ‘Knightfall’ (Bane pushes Batman physically and mentally, causing him to burn out) and ‘No Man’s Land’ (Gotham descends into gangland territory) as major influences on the film.

Talking Points:

  • Did anyone contribute to the chant?
  • Has anyone seen the sneek peek before MI4?

Trailers:

Excitement:
Jeff: It’s nice to see more in this trailer. However, I’ve suddenly not as excited as before. It’s still one of the top movies on my list to see but something about the trailer, didn’t increase my excitement.
Ray: I was more excited by the sneak preview (Which is amazing) than the trailer.. so I am excited to see it but not because of the trailer.
Steve: Best Nolan-verse trailer to date. Finally one that excited me! OK, so perhaps it’s just Tom Hardy…but still. It’ll get me to the theater. 🙂
Carlos:

Coming Attractions

The Past

The Present

The Future

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MOV084: “It’s So Overt, It’s Covert!”

This reel of COL Movies starts off with walk down memory lane with that “don’t stick your tongue on the frozen flag pole” and “you’ll shoot your eye out” film, “A Christmas Story”. After surviving the holidays, the boys head to the theater to see if Robert Downey Jr and Jude Law retain their magic in “Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows”. From there, they check out the trailer for the 2nd installment of the “Ghost Rider” franchise. Do we think we’ll get more out of Nick Cage in this movie? That’s still to be determined. In news, they discuss a prison sentence for pirating X-Men, Daniel Craig’s potential monopoly on the Bond franchise, and details on the BluRay for Jaws? It’s the 84th reel of COL Movies…”It’s so overt, it’s covert”

News:

The Past: A Christmas Story (1983)
Rotten Tomatoes: 89% Fresh, 82% Audience

Director: Bob Clark

Starring: Melinda Dillon, Darren McGavin, Scott Schwartz, Peter Billingsly, Jean Shepherd (Voice)

Trivia:

  • To find an American city resembling an Indiana town of the 1940s, director Bob Clark sent his location scouts to twenty cities before selecting Cleveland, Ohio, as the site for filming.
  • The people of Cleveland were incredibly cooperative during filming, donating antique vehicles from every corner of the city. These vintage vehicles helped to enhance the authenticity of the production design.
  • Ralph’s school exteriors were filmed at Victoria School in St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada.
  • Singer/Songwriter Pepper McGowan was an extra during the mall scene.
  • Jean Shepherd’s book “In God We Trust: All Others Pay Cash”, which the film is partly based on, is a collection of short stories that Jean Shepherd wrote for “Playboy” magazine during the 1960s, including the stories about the tongue sticking to the flagpole, and eating Christmas dinner at a Chinese restaurant. The subplot of the mangy dogs constantly harassing The Old Man was taken from another of Mr. Shepherd’s short story collections, “Wanda Hickey’s Night Of Golden Memories and Other Disasters.” In that book, the character of Ralph is about 17 years old.
  • The film’s setting is a town in Indiana, but was actually filmed in Cleveland, Ohio. The street the “Parker’s” live in is called “Cleveland Street”.
  • The movie was set in Hammond Indiana. References were made throughout the film to support this claim. Examples: Harding school (on 165th St.) where Flick stuck his tongue to the flagpole, Goldblatt’s department store, the mention of Griffith (a city that borders Hammond), Cleveland Street, Hohman Ave, and other streets that are located in Hammond. Although the movie was not filmed in Hammond the houses and look of the film is very authentic. Jean Shepherd (Writer) grew up in Hammond.
  • Parts of the movie, including the Christmas tree shopping scene, were filmed in Toronto, Ontario. One of Toronto’s trademark red trolleys can be seen driving by the shot of the outside of the tree lot.
  • The St. Catharine’s Museum owns some props used in the film, including two pairs of Ralphie’s glasses including the pair that was smashed, and two scripts.
  • According to the Daisy Air Rifle manufacturers on the Special Edition DVD documentary on the history of the Red Ryder BB Gun, the gun did exist except for one error in the story: The gun did not have a compass and sundial as mentioned in the movie. According to the historians, writer Jean Shepard confused the Red Ryder gun with another rifle that did have those features. But because the story and screen play were scripted to have the compass and sundial, guns had to be specially made for the movie.
  • Inspired the creation of The Wonder Years.
  • The film was released just before Thanksgiving and became a surprise hit. By the time Christmas rolled around, the movie had already been pulled from most theaters because it had been “played out”. After complaints were lodged at the theater owners and the studio, the film played on select screens until after the first of the year 1984.
  • According to Director Bob Clark, Jack Nicholson was given the script and was very much interested in the role of Mr. Parker, “The Old Man”. However, Clark didn’t learn of this until later and the studio didn’t want to pay Nicholson’s fee anyway, which would have doubled the budget. Regardless, Clark says that Darren McGavin was still the better choice and was born to play the role.
  • The “major award” was based on a real lamp: an illuminated Nehi logo.
  • The Radio Orphan Annie decoder pin that Ralphie receives is the 1940 “Speedomatic” model, indicating that the movie takes place in December, 1940. Different decoder badges were made each year from 1935-1940. By 1941, the decoders were made of paper.
  • The Department Store featured in the Santa scene is really Higbee’s in Downtown Cleveland. There were no Higbee’s in Hammond.
  • During the filming in downtown Cleveland, the antique automobile club members, whose cars were used, were given a route to follow on Public Square. They were instructed to continue circling the square until otherwise instructed. Road salt was a major concern for the car owners and the cars were pressure-washed after each day’s filming and parked underground beneath the Terminal Tower.
  • When the character of Scut Farkas first appears, the “Wolf” music from Sergei Prokofiev’s “Peter and the Wolf” plays in the background. The name “Farkas” is derived from the Hungarian word for “wolf”.
  • The Parker’s Oldsmobile is a 1937 Model 6, four-door sedan with Indiana license plate 56 498.
  • Mrs. Parker’s memory is correct. The Lone Ranger’s nephew, Dan Reid, rode a horse named “Victor”. He was the son of the Lone Ranger’s horse, Silver.
  • While reading the newspaper at the kitchen table the “Old Man” angrily mentions that the “Sox traded Bullfrog”. This is a reference to long time Chicago White Sox pitcher Bill Dietrich, who’s nickname was Bullfrog. He pitched during the 1930s and 1940s. Dietrich was never traded from the Sox, he was released September 18, 1946.
  • Ralphie says that he wanted the “Red Ryder BB Gun” 28 times.
  • The character of Red Ryder, whose name bears the BB Gun Ralphie is desperately trying to acquire, is a real comic book (and radio) character that existed in the 1930’s-40’s, akin to popular western heroes like Roy Rogers, Gene Autry, and the Lone Ranger.
  • The piece of music that plays after Ralphie says “fudge”, and after the lamp breaks for the second time, is the opening of “Hamlet” by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky.
  • White Sox player Bill “Bullfrog” Dietrich (Bill Dietrich) is mentioned as being traded. He was traded to the White Sox in 1936 and from the White Sox in 1946. Since the family drives a 1937 Olds, it would imply it was the 1946 trade. This would be consistent with the soldiers present at Higbee’s corner window in the movie opening, since the war may have just ended. However, war-era versions of the decoder badge were paper due to the shortage and Little Orphan Annie was off the air well before 1946.
  • Bob Clark’s success with the teen-sex comedy Porky’s allowed him the ability to make a movie he wanted to make. Without Porky’s there would have been no Christmas Story.
  • For the scene in which Flick’s tongue sticks to the flagpole, a hidden suction tube was used to safely create the illusion that his tongue had frozen to the metal.
  • An elaborate fantasy sequence – in which Ralphie joins Flash Gordon to fight Ming the Merciless – was filmed but dropped from the final cut.
  • In 2005, the original home used for the exterior shots of the family home was put up for auction on eBay and avid fan of the movie Brian Jones managed to purchase the home directly from the seller for $150,000.00 USD. Jones then spent the following year restoring the home to the way it looked on screen. The exterior of the home was completely restored and the interior was renovated to match the interior of the home shown in the movie. (Parts of the interior was actually filmed in a Toronto studio) On November 25th, 2006, the famous home finally opened its doors as a tourist attraction. Jones spent close to $500,000.00 USD in preparation for this grand opening. In addition, Jones also purchased the house next door and converted it to a gift shop and museum dedicated to the film and the house.
  • Director Bob Clark mentions in the commentary on the 2003 DVD that he worked with writer Jean Shepherd for nearly ten years on the concept of ‘A Christmas Story’ before the film was made.
  • According to Peter Billingsley (young Ralphie) in the DVD Commentary, the nonsensical ramblings that Ralphie exclaims while beating up Scott Farkus were scripted, word for word.
  • In the beginning credits, the actress portraying Mrs. Parker is listed correctly as Melinda Dillon. In the ending credits she is incorrectly listed as Melinda Dillion.
  • A behind-the-scenes documentary named ‘Road Trip for Ralphie’ follows two mega-fans on a two-year quest to locate and visit every location used in the movie. Along the way, they uncover Miss Shields’ chalk board from a dumpster, discover all the movie costumes hidden in a Toronto warehouse, track down the antique fire truck seen in the movie and visit the forgotten location of the actual Chop Suey Palace.
  • In early December of 2008, there was a contest to see who can portray the best Ralphie, whether if it’s him in a pink bunny suit, or in his winter apparel in celebration of the movie’s 25th anniversary. Plus they revealed the house in Cleveland where the movie was filmed.
  • Clarkworld is a heart-warming documentary on “A Christmas Story” director Bob Clark. The documentary’s director, Deren Abram, worked with Bob Clark for over a decade before Clark and his 22-year old son, Ariel, were killed by a drunk driver in April 2007.
  • According to Director Bob Clark’s commentary on the Christmas Story DVD, the first actor he had in mind to play Ralphie’s father was ‘Jack Nicholson’. Jack was very impressed with the script and was interested in doing the movie, but there was no way Clark could afford Jack Nicholson’s salary, and went instead with Darren McGavin as the father.
  • The real house used during filming can be found at 3159 W 11th Street in Cleveland, Ohio. Pictures and a “Street View” of the house can be seen on Google Maps. A nearby street that intersects with W. 11th St is Clark Avenue.
  • ‘Don Geyer (I)’, who played the Scarecrow, was the head of Display and Fixtures at Higbee’s Department Store / Dillards. Santa’s throne in the movie is one of the actual chairs owned by Higbee’s and used annually for Santa. After his death in 1999, his co-workers reported seeing him on the loading dock, where he used to smoke and a few claim they heard his voice on the overhead paging system.
  • Although now the film is considered a Christmas classic, what’s interesting is that at the time, according to Peter Billingsley, not many major studios were interested in a Depression-era story about a little boy wanting a BB gun for Christmas. Billingsley also stated in an interview that director Bob Clark agreed to make a horror film for the studio in order to get A Christmas Story made.
  • The film is set in 1941, according to the reference made by Mrs Parker to Mr Parker about an upcoming game between the Green Bay Packers and the Chicago Bears. These two teams met in a playoff game on December 14, 1941, a Sunday. It was their only playoff game against each other until January 23, 2011. The only previous time these two teams met during a regular season game in December was December 10, 1933. Throughout the 1940’s the second game of the regular season between these two teams all occurred in November, the two latest being mid-November in 1942 and 1948.
  • The LOOK magazine used by Ralph Parker to insert his Red Ryder promotion for his mother’s observation, was a December 21, 1937 edition with a cover featuring Shirley Temple pouring tea for Santa Clause. Based upon the optics of this prop it is quite possible the use of a brass decoder pin instead of the paper decoder pin used by Ralph in 1941 was chosen for its optics.
  • Since Jean Shepherd is listed in the opening set of credits, but is not in the more comprehensive end credits, the opening credits are used first in the IMDb cast list, followed by those in the end credits not yet in, as required by IMDb policy on cast ordering. In addition to being credited as “Ralphie as an Adult,” Shepherd also is uncredited as the Narrator/The Man in Line for Santa/Santa.
  • The Chinese restaurant is named ‘Bo Ling’s’. There is a neon sign across the top of the storefront that reads ‘Bowling’, except the ‘W’ is not lit.
  • There is a debate about when the film takes place. Evidence seems to point to 1939 because of “the wizard of oz” references. The decoder ring points to 1940. However, if you look at the calender on the wall (during the first dinner sequence), you can clearly see the first of December falls on a Friday. December 1st fell on a Friday in 1939. Not 1940 as what was previously excepted.
  • Jean Shepherd: writer/narrator, is the irate man waiting in the Santa line at the department store. The woman standing behind Shepherd is his wife, Leigh Brown.

Talking Points:

  • Even though I’ve seen this a million times I still remember the first time.
  • Do you think there will ever be a time when this movie stops being played so many times during Christmas?

What We’ve Learned:

  • The Kid year revolves around Christmas
  • The Lone Rangers nephew’s horse was a great character in American literature
  • Grizzly bears like to stalk candy stores
  • There is a black cloud of obscenity floating somewhere over Lake Michigan
  • Nothing trumps the triple dog dare
  • Don’t stick your tongue (or anything else wet) to a metal light pole in winter
  • You’ll shoot your eye out kid
  • Be sure to drink your Ovaltine

Trailer:

Recommendations:
Jeff: Okay, okay, the movies not that bad. But seriously, that Santa give me nightmares. I hate you A Christmas Story. Definitely a skippable movie for every year.
Ray: A movie plagued by it’s own popularity. Regardless of how good a movie it may or may not be.. it’s an overplayed joke at this point. Which is unfortunate. If you haven’t seen it, yes you should see it at least once..and then never turn your TV on during Christmas ever again.
Steve: Always worth a look, especially if you’ve never seen it. I don’t need to see it over and over every year, but it’s a little gem to find in your stocking every few years, if nothing but for nostalgia’s sake. It is very surprising to see how much this movie is in our popular culture though…images pop up everywhere if you look.

The Present: Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows
Rotten Tomatoes: 59% Fresh, 85% Audience

Director: Guy Richie

Starring: Robert Downey Jr., Jude Law, Jared Harris, Stephen Fry.

Trivia:

  • Brad Pitt, Gary Oldman, Daniel Day-Lewis, Sean Penn and Javier Bardem were considered to play Moriarty.
  • Both Robert Downey Jr. (Holmes) and Jared Harris (Moriarty) had acted in the Oliver Stone film Natural Born Killers.
  • Robert Morley and Stephen Fry have both played Oscar Wilde and Mycroft Holmes. In the Gyles Brandreth books where Oscar is a detective, his friend Conan Doyle states that Oscar was the inspiration for Mycroft.
  • Sophie Marceau, Audrey Tautou, Penélope Cruz, Juliette Binoche, Virginie Ledoyen, Eva Green, Marion Cotillard and Cécile De France were considered to play Sim before Noomi Rapace was cast.
  • Leslie S. Klinger, author of “The New Annotated Sherlock Holmes” and a consultant on this film, said in an interview that he suggested “Sherlock Holmes: The Grand Game” as a title.
  • Stephen Fry (Mycroft) and Jared Harris (Moriarty) share the same birthday.
  • Robert Downey Jr. came up with the idea for the disguise as a cross-dresser, which was originally a priest.
  • The bagpipers at Dr. Watson’s wedding were from the Leicestershire Seaforth Highlanders. Guy Ritchie contacted them as his grandfather was in the Seaforth Highlanders.
  • Due to Warner Bros.’ fast-tracking of this sequel, director Guy Ritchie was forced to drop out of an adaptation of Lobo, while Robert Downey Jr. was forced to drop out of Cowboys & Aliens
  • Stephen Fry is also set to appear in The Hobbit: There and Back Again. Also appearing in that film is Christopher Lee; who has played both Sherlock and Mycroft Holmes; as well as Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman, who also appear together as the modern-day Holmes and Watson inc Sherlock.
  • At the beginning when Watson is typing, the camera pans over typed excerpts from Doyle’s stories, including “The Blue Carbuncle” and “A Study in Scarlet.”
  • Both Jude Law (Watson) and Stephen Fry (Mycroft) starred together in the 1997 film Wilde.
  • ‘Wolf Khaler’, who plays Doctor Hoffmanstahl, also played the King of Bohemia (Irene Adler’s former lover) in the adaptation of “A Scandal In Bohemia” from “The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes” with Jeremy Brett.
  • The medals Watson wears during his stag party are the Afghan War Medal (red and green ribbon) and the Kandahar Bronze Star (multi-colored striped ribbon), which would make Watson a veteran of the Second Afghan War (1878-1880).
  • The movie is primarily based on the short story “The Final Problem” by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, but also shows aspects from other Sherlock Holmes stories: “The Sign of Four”; “The Greek Interpretor”; “Valley of Fear”; “The Speckled Band”; “The Dying Detective”; “Bruce Partington Plans”; and “The Second Stain”.
  • After Holmes refuses to ride the horse offered to him by the Gypsies, he is seen riding a mule. The music they play for that scene is the theme from Two Mules for Sister Sara from 1970.

Talking Points:

  • Again..does every action sequence have to be sloooowwweeeeedddd dooooooowwwnnnnnn (this movie would have been over a lot quicker)

What We Learned:

  • You can’t use the lavatory on a Victorian era train while its not moving.
  • Bagpipes make a most effective alarm clock
  • Horses are dangerous at both ends and crafty in the middle.

Trailer:

Recommendations :
Jeff: On par with the first movie. Added a couple of new things. I just like the Sherlock Holmes movie so I’m good. Sherlock and Moriarty’s fight was one of my favorite parts.
Ray: Was a game of snoozes for me, even with this really being about as far away from an actual Sherlock Holmes story…and despite all the action sequences, it couldn’t keep me awake in my seat. ZzzZzzZzzZZz
Steve: I like the action, although the bullet time and slo-mo got REALLY annoying over time. Was definitely action-oriented and was non-stop. The story was “eh”, but at least the visuals and action were worth seeing in the theater.

The Future: Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengence

Release: February 2012

Directors: Mark Neveldine, Brian Taylor

Starring: Nicolas Cage, Ciarán Hinds, Idris Elba

Summary:

As Johnny Blaze hides out in Eastern Europe, he is called upon to stop the devil, who is trying to take human form.

Trivia:

  • The Ghost Rider’s skull has been redesigned for this sequel. The new skull appears to be black and charred, indicating that the skull is actually on fire as apposed to the clean fleshless skull simply cloaked in fire in the previous film.
  • Eva Mendes turned down the option to reprise her role

Talking Points:
Trailer 2 gives much more about the plot

Trailers:

#1:

#2:

Excitement:
Jeff: BUUUUUUURRRRRRRNNNNNN!!!!!! He he, fire, fire.
Ray: I’ve always seen the Ghost Rider franchise as some sort of D-List comic penned to catch on to the Evel Knieval craze of the 1970’s thus my excitement for this movie, as was the first one..pretty non existent
Steve: If I was into motorcycles more, or if it weren’t Nicholas Cage, I would probably be more into this movie. Effects look cool…but I was not a big fan of the first one. He might need to use that chain to drag me to the theater.

Coming Attractions

The Past

The Present

The Future

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MOV083: “If that’s normal, I don’t want it!”

On this reel of COL:Movies the boys hop on Santa’s sleigh and take a nostalgic look at Christmas past by watching Miracle on 34th Street. Did this Christmas classic live up to expectations? Is it something that still holds relevance to today’s audiences? Next the boys Trade in Santa’s sleigh for Santa’s spaceship, you heard that right kids from Christmas past to a somewhat technologically advanced Christmas present we discuss the modern Christmas tale Arthur Christmas. Did Fuzz’s surreal theater experience soil his enjoyment of the movie? Did Justin Bieber ruin Christmas? Next we take a look at a film scheduled for next year, Pixar’s Brave. The boys give us their thoughts on this movie and what they think about what seems to be a slight departure from the normal Pixar formula? All this plus thoughts on Movie sequels, Chinese censorship, and what its like to make out with Patton Oswald on this Reel of COL:Movies number 83

News:

The Past: Miracle on 34th Street (1947)
Rotten Tomatoes: 94% Fresh, 82% Audience

Director: George Seaton

Starring: Maureen O’Hara, John Payn, Edmund Gwenn, Natalie Wood

Trivia:

  • Despite the fact that the film is set during Christmas, studio head Darryl F. Zanuck insisted that it be released in May because he argued that more people went to the movies during the summer. So the studio began scrambling to promote it while keeping the fact that it was a Christmas movie a secret.
  • Maureen O’Hara was ultimately forced into her role against her will, as she had just returned to Ireland before being called back to America for the film. However, she immediately changed her sentiments upon reading the script.
  • There are 21 mail bags carried into the courtroom at the end of Kris’s hearing.
  • Thelma Ritter’s screen debut.
  • 20th Century-Fox studio head Darryl F. Zanuck was very much against making this film because he thought it too corny to succeed. He finally agreed to a medium-sized budget provided writer/director George Seaton would accept his next three assignments unconditionally. Seaton, who desperately wanted to get the picture made, agreed.
  • When Dr. Pierce explains Kris’ belief that he is Santa Claus, he offers for comparative purposes a Hollywood restaurant owner who believes himself to be a Russian prince despite evidence to the contrary, but rather conveniently fails to recall the man’s name. This was a reference to Michael Romanoff, owner of Romanoff’s in Hollywood, a popular hangout for movie stars at the time.
  • 2006: Ranked #9 on the American Film Institute’s 100 Most Inspiring Movies of All Time.
  • Ranked #5 on the American Film Institute’s list of the 10 greatest films in the genre “Fantasy” in June 2008.
  • The scenes of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade are of the actual parade held in 1946. As such, careful preparation was necessary for the shots as retakes were obviously out of the question. 20th Century-Fox had cameras positioned along the parade route at the starting line at 77th Street, on Central Park West, on the 3rd floor of an apartment building at 253 West 58th Street, in Herald Square and on 34th Street at 7th Avenue.
  • In the untranslated dialogue with the Dutch girl, Santa Claus asks the child what she wants for Christmas the girl says she wants nothing, telling Santa she got her gift by being adopted by her new mother
  • Both the actual Macy’s and Gimbel’s department stores were approached by the producers for permission to have them depicted in the film. Both stores wanted to see the finished film first before they gave approval. If either store had refused, the film would have had to been extensively edited and reshot to eliminate the references. Fortunately at the test viewing, both businesses were pleased with the film and gave their permission.
  • The scenes at Macy’s were shot on location at the main New York store on 34th Street itself. Shooting was complicated by the fact that the crew’s power needs exceeded the store’s electricity capacity and required additional power sources arranged in the store’s basement.
  • Received a ‘B’ rating (morally objectionable in part) from the highly influential Legion of Decency because Maureen O’Hara played a divorcée.
  • In 2011, Maureen O’Hara (Doris Walker) and Alvin Greenman (Alfred) are the last surviving major/semi major cast members.
  • The real R.H. (Rowland Hussey) Macy died in 1877, 70 years prior to the time of the film.
  • The house that Susan sees at the end of the movie that all three characters enter is, according to the Nassau County Tax Records, located at 24 Derby Road in Port Washington, New York.

Talking Points:

  • Did anyone else think Edmund Gwenn sounds like Michael Gambon
  • Colorization? Why do people pan the colorized version?
  • Does it hold up as a tale modern families would go for?
  • The trailer
  • So, was he or wasnt he?

What We’ve Learned:

  • Blitzen is always on the right
  • Donner’s antlers have 4 points not 3
  • A mans gotta do something to keep warm!
  • The Macy’s parade seemed a lot smaller in 1947
  • Kris Kringle is as old as his tongue and a little bit older than his teeth
  • Christmas isn’t just a day its a frame of mind.
  • Chewing gum and beards don’t mix!

Trailer:

Recommendations:
Jeff: Adorable movie and definitely a Christmas classic. Definitely welcome in my DVD collection.
Ray: A Christmas classic that I had never taken the time to watch due to my irrational aversion to films made prior to 1965 – I’m glad I did though, while not something Id watch every year it would definitely go into the rotation to break up the It’s a wonderful life / a Christmas story monotony
Steve: Classic. Love the old school acting and unrealistic characters. This is the first time I’ve watched this since I have worked at a Macy’s and visited the original one in New York. The questions raised are definitely interesting and warm hearted.

The Present: Arthur Christmas
Rotten Tomatoes: 92% Fresh, 82% Audience

Director: Sarah Smith

Starring: James McAvoy, Jim Broadbent, Bill Nighy

Trivia:

  • The second consecutive film written by Peter Baynham to have the name Arthur in its title, the first being Arthur starring Russell Brand.
  • Arthur Christmas was first announced in 2007, under the name Operation Rudolph. It was the first film made by Aardman in partnership with Sony Pictures Entertainment and its subsidiaries
  • Has already been nominated for 11 awards, mostly for best animated feature – and won 1 to date (San Diego Film Critic’s Society Award).

Talking Points:

  • This was one of the most bizarre.. and annoying theater visits (fuzz)
  • Good lord did anyone else have to sit thought the Justin Bieber Video?
  • Updating the Christmas myths

What We Learned:

  • Santa’s house does not show up on Google Earth
  • Milk and Cookies can be used as Biofuel
  • A whack on the head, and a dab of whisky on the lips will keep any child quiet
  • Christmas is not a time for emotion
  • Santa wears Designer suits
  • Reindeer can smell fear
  • Santa cuts through Canada because no one lives there
  • Make sure that auto save is on!
  • There’s always time for a Bow!
  • AMC Theaters really need to upgrade their computers!

Trailer:

Recommendations :
Jeff: Very cute movie and glad I went. The 3D wasn’t necessary though, but at least it wasn’t bad. Definitely worth taking the neice and/or nephew too. Oh, and if you do have kids, them too.
Ray: Besides my theater annoyances, I really enjoyed this. It does a great job of updating the Santa Mythos and is generally entertaining. Not only do I think you should watch this, this one will be in my collection.
Steve: Thought it was clever and cute. I haven’t always been a British cartoon fan, but actually got the humor in this one. Really enjoyed the references to how Christmas is celebrated in different countries.

The Future: Brave

Release: June 22, 2012

Directors: Mark Andrews, Brenda Chapman

Starring: Kelly Macdonald, Billy Connolly and Emma Thompson

Summary:

Set in Scotland in a rugged and mythical time, “Brave” features Merida, an aspiring archer and impetuous daughter of royalty. Merida makes a reckless choice that unleashes unintended peril and forces her to spring into action to set things right.

Trivia:

  • Reese Witherspoon was originally announced as the voice of Princess Merida, but scheduling conflicts prevented from taking the role. Kelly Macdonald replaced her.
  • This film marks the first time a Pixar produced film has a female protagonist.
  • The original title of the film was “The Bear and the Bow”.
  • Originally 80% of the film took place in snow. When director Brenda Chapman left the project so did much of the white stuff.
  • The Pizza Planet truck, a fixture of every full-length Pixar film, can be spotted in the Witch’s Hut.
  • None of the footage shown in the preview trailer is in the finished film.
  • Kelly Macdonald, Robbie Coltrane, Emma Thompson, Julie Walters, Craig Ferguson and Billy Connolly have all been in movies based on book series. Billy Connolly was in “Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events” based on “The Bad Beginning”, “The Reptile Room”, and “The Wide Window” the first 3 books in the book series “A Series of Unfortunate Events”. Kelly Macdonald, Robbie Coltrane, Emma Thompson, and Julie Walters have all been in “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2” the final installment in the Harry Potter movies, based on the 7th and final book “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows” from the Harry Potter series.
  • Four of the cast members (Kelly Macdonald, Robbie Coltrane, Julie Walters, and Emma Thompson) have worked on Harry Potter. Thompson and Macdonald have both worked on Nanny McPhee and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, however, in the latter they have no scenes together. Brave will be their 3rd film together.

Talking Points:

  • Pixar’s mostly human movie vs. animating toys, cars, fish, monsters, etc?
  • Female lead character?

Trailers:

Excitement:
Jeff: It’s another Pixar movie. I’m sure it’s already on the list or will be. I’m not super excited about it, but always know I’ll be satisfied when I go see a Pixar movie.
Ray: Um.. It’s Pixar.. yeah I’m excited DUH
Steve: Looks like it will be good, but kind of seems like a departure for Pixar. Not 100% sure I’m excited about it.

Coming Attractions

The Past

The Present

The Future

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MOV082: “The Things A Girl Will Do For A Mink Coat!”

In this reel of COL Movies, the guys head into the way back machine to review 1945’s “Christmas In Connecticut”. After spending some time with the old school, they head to the theater to see Martin Scorsese’s “Hugo”. After surviving…I mean sleeping through…I mean getting through that film, they check out the trailer for the highly anticipated…and by highly anticipated we mean spent almost 80 years in development hell…Pixar live-action film, “John Carter”. All this and more info on The Dark Knight Rises, Angelina Jolie and Luc Besson’s potential partnership, Robocop going boldly where no man has gone before, and a spoof trailer for the Angry Birds movie – you know you want to see it! It’s the 82nd reel of COL Movies – the things a girl will do for a mink coat!

News:

The Past: Christmas In Connecticut (1945)
Rotten Tomatoes: 88% Fresh, 77 % Audience

Director:Peter Godfrey

Starring: Barbara Stanwyck, Dennis Morgan, Sydney Greenstreet, Reginald Gardiner

Trivia:

  • The Connecticut home is the same set used in Bringing Up Baby,
  • The character of Elizabeth Lane was loosely based on the then popular Family Circle Magazine columnist Gladys Taber, who lived on Stillmeadow Farm in Connecticut.

Talking Points:

  • Man..who WASN’T getting married in this film..
  • Favorite Line? Or Scene?
  • The portrayal of African Americans from this era of film (waiter)

What We’ve Learned:

  • The ol’ MaGoo is different than baloney!
  • Nobody needs a mink coat except a mink!
  • The Sanctity of Marriage was alive and well in 1945
  • Babies like to eat soap
  • Its the woman that leads the man astray

Trailer:

Recommendations:
Jeff: I couldn’t get through this movie, I kept starting and stopping, muting. It’s not a bad movie in any way shape or form, it’s just not my thing. If you like a movie with constant embarrassing moments and classic movieness, watch it. I just can’t anymore.
Ray: It’s a cute little look at a 1940’s screwball comedy. I liked it even if the whole marriage thing annoyed me. I’d say watch! If only for Uncle Felix definitely not a catastrophe!
Steve: I will admit wholeheartedly that I screwed up.

The Present: Hugo
Rotten Tomatoes: 94% Fresh, 84% Audience

Director: Martin Scorsese

Starring: Asa Butterfield, Chloë Grace Moretz, Ben Kingsley, Sacha Baron Cohen

Trivia:

  • Martin Scorsese’s first feature film in twelve years not starring Leonardo DiCaprio. His last feature film without DiCaprio was “Bringing Out the Dead”
  • After a screening that James Cameron attended, he called the film a “masterpiece” and told Martin Scorsese it was the best use of 3D he had seen, including his own films.
  • The cam mechanism in the automaton is heavily inspired by the machinery in the Jaquet-Droz automata, built between 1768 and 1774.
  • Martin Scorsese directed the 3D cinematography by wearing clip-on 3D lenses over his prescription glasses
  • The train station depicted is the Gare Montparnasse. The real life Georges Méliès did in fact work as a toymaker at that station after World War I. The derailment scene during Hugo’s dream is a reference to the famous 1895 derailment at the station

Talking Points:

  • The Cinematography “Crazy Long shot at the beginning”
  • 3D? Anyone see it?
  • Will this really appeal to children
  • Was this what you thought it was going to be about?
  • Melodramatic character “Kingsley”
  • Anyone else feel like this was some ham-handed plea for film preservation?
  • Sacha Baron Cohen & all the older actors – pretty much a star cast (all from Harry Potter…lol)

What We Learned:

  • There are a whole lot of English people living in Paris (accents)
  • The secret is in the clockwork
  • The Library is the best place on earth, like Never-land, Oz and Treasure Island all wrapped in one
  • Everything has a purpose, lose it and you’re broken
  • Old Films make wonderful rubber heels
  • Happy Endings only happen in the movies.

Trailer:

Recommendations :
Jeff: This movie has some serious pacing issues. I thought the story wasn’t so bad and twisting it into something different then what I expected was nice. The cinematography was great, lighting, coloring, but just paced wrong. Maybe a worth see on rental, but seeing it on the big screen for some of those shots were great. Loved the shout out to the beginnings of movie making.
Ray: Ugh, totally bored me. Nodded off a few times. Felt like this was Scorsese just masturbating on film….If I was a kid I would have found this film extremely boring, My one shining star of the film..was only in it for 5 minutes, and for 2 of those he was dead.
Steve: Was snoring by 15 minutes in…and was out for at least 20 minutes. But once I woke up, I didn’t mind the story after it got to the part about filmmaking. However, definitely not my kind of movie and I wouldn’t see it again. I honestly thought it was going to be completely something else.

The Future: John Carter

Director: Andrew Stanton

Starring: Taylor Kitsch, Lynn Collins, Willem Defoe

Summary:

Transplanted to Mars, a Civil War vet discovers a lush planet inhabited by 12-foot tall barbarians. Finding himself a prisoner of these creatures, he escapes, only to encounter a princess who is in desperate need of a savior.

Trivia:

  • The first live action film that will involve Pixar
  • Probably holds the record for having the longest period of “development hell” for any movie, at 79 years, but would have been the first animated film ever made had it succeeded to be developed in 1931

Talking Points:

  • Trailer Music
  • Development Hell!

Trailers:

Excitement:
Jeff: Damn, this trailer got me excited to see this movie. I was luke warm hearing about it before but definitely changed my mind. I think it was John leaping a couple of stories into the air that helped hook me.
Ray: Man, I’ve been hearing about this film for at LEAST 17 years… yes that long. Hope its worth the wait. I am looking forward to it.
Steve: Looks really cool! I’m looking forward to it. I have no concept of the back story, but the trailer really pulled me in.

Coming Attractions

The Past

The Present

The Future

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PAN001: Watchmen Director’s Cut DVD

Jeff, Ray, and Steve aren’t the only bears that watch movies.  Guest writer Rick (aka Austinpanda) gives us his written take on the “Watchmen” Director’s Cut DVD.

While shopping at my local grocery megamart lately, I came across a few bins of discount DVDs and BluRays. Normally I react with distrust when electronics store merchandise encroaches onto the place where I purchase bacon, but thanks to its mega-visible yellow and black color scheme, I noticed a Watchmen Director’s Cut BluRay for $6.00. Watchmen is the perfect example of an almost-great movie, I think. It has parts I really love. Six bucks felt like an insult. I bought a copy.

Director Howard Hawkes said you can define a good movie as one which has at least three great scenes and no bad scenes. Watchmen got the first part right with plenty of room to spare. The second part, not so much.

Since this movie is almost three years old now, I won’t worry about spoiling things. Here’s the solution to the mystery: Veidt, the foppish, rich, super-smart guy, blew up all the world’s biggest cities and made it look like Dr. Manhattan did it, so the world would band together in opposition to Dr. Manhattan instead of killing itself with nuclear war. Can’t nuke Russia, too busy worrying if Dr. Manhattan’s going to blow up my grandparents in Cleveland next. Or Irkutsk.

Watchmen has quite a few great scenes. The flashback showing how science nerd Jon Osterman’s terrible accident transforms him into floating blue exhibitionist Dr. Manhattan is my favorite. I also love most every scene featuring Rorschach. I really like Rorschach’s character, its driving concepts and its execution. Don’t get me wrong; the guy’s got issues. I don’t aspire to be like any of these superheroes, but I wouldn’t mind having Rorschach’s sense of style.

The director’s cut of the movie is not an improvement over the original theatrical release. If you’re new to the Watchmen story, you might as well stick with the 2 hour 47 minute version instead of the 3 hour and 6 minute version. It’s just as entertaining, and life is short. But if you’re into this sort of thing (director’s cuts or Watchmen in general) the director’s cut has a few scenes you’ll want to see.

It’s not a director’s cut that simply includes a handful of new scenes; it’s been tweaked all over. Conversations are lengthened. Situations and flashbacks are lengthened. Example: the shootout in Veidt’s office between Veidt and the delivery guy (where several captains of industry get lusciously killed in delightful slow motion) is a good bit bloodier, and features an exciting new ah…finger injury closeup.

The most substantial addition is the death of Nite Owl 1. Recall the early scene with Nite Owl 1 drinking beer and discussing old times with Nite Owl 2. Later, Nite Owl 1 gets badly killed by some “knot head” thugs. Nite Owl 2 sees the news on TV in a bar and would you believe it, who’s sitting right next to him, but a knot head. We’re treated to Nite Owl 2, also known as Dan of the Chevy Chase appearance and questionable libido, beating the unholy shit out of the knot head, including closeups of broken teeth floating out of a shredded mouth on a river of blood.

Now me, I could have lived without that shit. I can enjoy movie violence. I can even enjoy excessive movie violence, because there are times when over-the-top gore can improve the scene. Think of some of the bloodier moments in Shaun of the Dead. They’re hilarious. But how did the knot head’s unfortunate dental injury make the film Watchmen any better?

On the other hand, there’s a new scene that’s quite good, with Laurie/Silk Spectre 2 getting interrogated by military meanies and escaping with a zealous application of cunning and martial arts. Her character needed an extra smidgeon of cool, and this scene brought it.

Filming Watchmen must have come up with many built-in chances to fail. First of all, there’s simply too much content in the graphic novel to fit into a film. Zack Snyder (who directed 300) was always going to have to cut something that would upset somebody, but he chose well. Secondly, the concept of a world-ending nuclear exchange between the USA and the Soviet Union was a terrifying living reality back when this story was set, and was published. Now the Soviet Union is gone, and our terrors come in different shapes. For the dangers it avoided, Watchmen is all the greater an accomplishment.

My central problem with Watchmen is this: The movie makes great demands of its audience, beating the shit out of us with gruesome violence, frequent flashbacks you have to keep in their chronological order, incredible visual density, lots and lots of story arcs, and a three-hour running length. At the end, the punchline is, “Many millions get killed, instead of EVERYONE getting killed. Hooray! Also, your favorite character gets killed.” Yep, except for The Comedian, who dies in the opening scene, all the main characters survive except Rorschach. Oh, and all the other millions and millions of world citizens.

I wonder if anyone makes a Rorschach plush doll. I kind of like the idea of Rorschach being rendered in the form of a cuddly soft toy, because if any character in literary history needs a hug more than Rorschach, I can’t say who it is. I would hug him and pet him and…try to convince him that such a stubborn refusal to compromise, while frequently noble, can sometimes lead to negative results.

Finally, ever notice at the end, when New York is being blown up, they show the prison psychiatrist who interviewed Rorschach and his briefcase pops open, spilling his ink blots. There’s a closeup of the briefcase clasp and its 3-digit combination, ‘300.’