MOV126: AcaAwkward!

In this reel of COL Movies, Jeff and Steve are riding as a twosome and reviewing one of the most classic horror films of all time – “The Exorcist”. From there, it’s off to hear the acapella awesomeness of “Pitch Perfect”. In trailer-world, they talk about the teaser for “The Host”, coming out in 2013. It’s a slow news week because The Walking Dead premieres tonight, so…it’s the 126th Reel of COL Movies – “AcaAwkward!”

News:

  • Nada mucho

The Past: The Exorcist
Rotten Tomatoes 87% Fresh; 83% Audience

Director: William Friedkin

Starring: Ellen Burstyn, Max von Sydow, Linda Blair

Trivia:

  • Ellen Burstyn received a permanent spinal injury during filming. In the sequence where she is thrown away from her possessed daughter, a harness jerked her hard away from the bed. She fell on her coccyx and screamed in pain.
  • The archaeological dig site seen at the beginning of the movie is the actual site of ancient Nineveh in Hatra, Iraq.
  • The first scene to be shot was of a distressed Karras pacing the corridors of Bellevue psychiatric hospital, agitatedly discussing with his uncle his mother’s incarceration.
  • The refrigerated bedroom set was cooled with four air conditioners and temperatures would plunge to around 30 to 40 below zero. It was so cold that perspiration would freeze on some of the cast and crew. On one occasion the air was saturated with moisture resulting in a thin layer of snow falling on the set before the crew arrived for filming.
  • Christian evangelist Billy Graham claimed an actual demon was living in the celluloid reels of this movie.
  • The language lab scene was filmed in a room in the basement of Keating Hall on Fordham University’s Bronx campus. The same room was used as a Pentagon office in A Beautiful Mind.
  • When originally released in the UK a number of town councils imposed a complete ban on the showing of the film. This led to the bizarre spectacle of “Exorcist Bus Trips” where enterprising travel companies organised buses to take groups to the nearest town where the film was showing.
  • The statue of “Pazuzu” was accidentally sent to Hong Kong, before arriving on location in Iraq.
  • In the scene in the language lab, a white banner is visible with the following letters TASUKETE written in red. TASUKETE means “Help me” in Japanese.
  • A filmgoer who saw the movie in 1974 during its original release fainted and broke his jaw on the seat in front of him. He then sued Warner Brothers and the filmmakers, claiming that the use of subliminal imagery in the film had caused him to pass out. The studio settled out of court for an undisclosed sum.
  • If adjusted for inflation, this would be the top grossing R-rated film of all time.
  • This is Warner Brothers’ highest grossing film of all time when adjusted for inflation.
  • While he was writing the novel, William Peter Blatty was collecting unemployment benefits.
  • This was the film in which makeup legend Dick Smith hired Rick Baker as his assistant.
  • There were three separate beds built to do three separate movements.
  • The original teaser trailer, which consisted of nothing but images of the white-faced demon quickly flashing in and out of darkness, was banned in many theaters, as it was deemed “too frightening”.
  • The actual residence in Georgetown that is used for the exterior shots has a rather large yard between it and the infamous steps. The window that leads to Regan’s room is at least 40 feet from the top of the steps. This distance would make it impossible for anyone “thrown” from the window to actually land on the steps. In the movie, set decorators added a false wing to the house, so that Regan’s supposed window would in fact be close to the infamous steps.
  • The bedroom set had to be refrigerated to capture the authentic icy breath of the actors in the exorcising scenes. Linda Blair, who was only in a flimsy nightgown, says to this day she cannot stand being cold.
  • The substance that the possessed Regan (Linda Blair) hurls at Father Damien Karras (Jason Miller) is thick pea soup. Specifically, it’s Andersen’s brand pea soup. The crew tried Campbell’s but didn’t like the “effect.”
  • On the first day of filming the exorcism sequence, Linda Blair’s delivery of her foul-mouthed dialogue so disturbed the gentlemanly Max von Sydow that he actually forgot his lines.
  • Linda Blair injured her back when a piece of the rig broke as she was thrown about on the bed.
  • Linda Blair received her Best Supporting Actress Oscar nomination before it was widely known that previous Supporting Actress winner Mercedes McCambridge had actually provided the voice of the demon. By Academy rules once Blair was given the nomination it could not be withdrawn, but the controversy about Blair being given credit for another actress’ work ruined her chances of winning the award.

Talking Points:

  • Still Scary?
  • The Soundtrack
  • Children

What We Learned:

  • The Power of Christ compels you!

Trailer:

Recommendations:
Jeff: Maybe it’s just an out of time sort of thing but I just found this movie boring. It wasn’t scary at all. I do see some of the merits of it being a good movie at the time but I think I’ll pass on this one. Still watchable so if it comes up to watch it somewhere, I will.
Steve: Classic…not as scary as it used to be, but classic lines, characters, and sets the standard for a genre. See it!

The Present: Pitch Perfect
Rotten Tomatoes 77% Fresh; 88% Audience

Director: Jason Moore

Starring: Anna Kendrick, Brittany Snow, Rebel Wilson

Trivia:

  • One of the movie’s lines refers to being “pitch slapped.” Kelley Jakle competed on The Sing-Off with the Backbeats, and one of their opponents was Pitch Slapped.
  • The movie was filmed throughout campus and inside buildings at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
  • A special screening of the film was held on 25 September 2012 at the LSU Student Union Theater because parts of the movie were filmed on LSU’s campus. The turnout for the screening was so great that only a little more than half of the students in line got in to see the movie. The producer saw that there were more students wanting to see the film and allowed a second showing immediately following the first.
  • The role of Gail was originally written for Kristen Wiig but she declined due to scheduling conflicts. Elizabeth Banks, one of the film’s producers, eventually took the role.
  • The film is based on Mickey Rapkin’s non-fiction novel Pitch Perfect. Rapkin, senior editor at GQ magazine, spent a season covering competitive collegiate a cappella. He followed the groups from Tufts University, the University of Oregon, and the University of Virginia, writing about the singing, groupies, partying and rivalries.
  • Two members of the a cappella community, Ed Boyer and Deke Sharon, both in Rapkin’s book, were brought on board to arrange songs, produce vocals and act as on-site music directors

Talking Points:

  • Rebel Wilson
  • The music

Critic Notes:

  • Positives: fun, saucy, snarky, good music, mild satire, interesting characters, shows how serious the world of collegiate acapella is – while not realizing how odd it is from those on the outside
  • Negatives: tries too hard to be funny, music is boring, choreography is bad

What We Learned:

  • Nothing makes a woman feel more like a girl than a man who sings like a boy.
  • Even though some of us are pretty thin, we all have fat hearts, and that’s what counts.

Trailer:

Recommendations :
Jeff: I enjoyed this movie primarily for the music. Everything else was . . . meh. This is a worth see on rental but wouldn’t be bad in the theater if you’d like to see it there. I think the soundtrack was worth it.
Steve: Enjoyed about 95% of the movie…that 5% just made me feel oddly uncomfortable. Otherwise, the music is great and it’s just fun with some wacky characters – very acapella.

The Future: The Host

Release: March 29th, 2013

Director: Andrew Niccol

Starring: Saoirse Ronan, Diane Kruger, William Hurt

Summary:

A parasitic alien soul is injected into the body of Melanie Stryder. Instead of carrying out her race’s mission of taking over the Earth, “Wanda” (as she comes to be called) forms a bond with her host and sets out to aid other free humans.

Talking Points:

  • From the writer of “The Twilight” saga

Trailer:

Excitement:
Jeff: You get alot more information from the written synopsis then you get from the trailer. Which could be a good or bad thing. Personally, Since it’s based on a book by Stephanie Meyer, it’s an immediately turn off, despite the fact it sounds intriguing
Steve: Has an interesting concept. More sci-fi than Twilight, so it will be interesting to see where it goes. Looking forward to a full on trailer with more plot, though. However, the teaser itself is intriguing.

The Past: 28 Days Later

The Present: Frankenweenie

The Future: Lincoln

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MOV119: “So, you were havin’ sex with the little fellow, then”

On this next reel of COL Movies we take a trip back to 1987 via the 1996 critically acclaimed “Fargo” Whats our take on what some would call a Coen Brother Masterpiece? Do we think it’s deserving of all it’s praise or better off getting run through the wood chipper? Next up we come back to the present to look at “ParaNorman” a 3D stop motion puppetry extravaganza brought to us by the creators of the much loved 2009 film “Coraline” Has lightning struck twice? or is this movie and it’s viewers cursed to a slow agonizing death? Last but certainly not least we Look ahead to this November’s upcoming Kung-Fu blood-letting of “The Man with the Iron Fists” Is this RZA directed martial arts epic getting us excited to head to the theaters? All that plus updated casting news on Robocop, and Interesting Rumor about John Travolta’s next project and some possible comic book ensemble action in store for the Wachowskies. All this and more on the next COL Movies reel 119, “So, you were havin’ sex with the little fellow, then”

News:

The Past: Fargo (1996)
Rotten Tomatoes 94% Fresh 91% Audience

Director: Joel Coen

Staring: Frances McDormand, William H, Macy, Steve Buscemi

Trivia:

  • When working on her Minnesota accent for the film, Frances McDormand worked with Larissa Kokernot, “Hooker #1.” McDormand referred to her accent and mannerisms as “Minnesota Nice.”
  • The region was experiencing its second-warmest winter in 100 years. Filming of outdoor scenes had to be moved all over Minnesota, North Dakota, and Canada.
  • In the kidnappers’ cabin, Bruce Campbell can be seen on the fuzzy TV screen. Bruce Campbell was in the Coen Brothers’ The Hudsucker Proxy and has been in various films by Coen buddy Sam Raimi. The footage was not shot for this film, but was actually old footage of a regional soap opera in which Campbell appeared.
  • The seal for the Brainerd police department has a silhouette of Paul Bunyan and Babe the blue ox.
  • Approaching Brainerd from the south, you see a statue of Paul Bunyan with a sign reading “Welcome to Brainerd.” In reality, Brainerd has no such statue. Paul Bunyan Amusement Park, located just outside Brainerd, had a huge statue of Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox. The park is now at ‘This Old Farm,’ between Brainerd and Garrison.
  • In the Lundegaard’s house, the magazine rack by the toilet holds a Playboy magazine. It’s visible when Jerry comes back home and sees the aftermath of the kidnapping.
  • William H. Macy begged the directors for the role of Jerry Lundegaard. He did two readings for the part, and became convinced he was the best man for the role. When the Coens didn’t get back to him, he flew to New York (where they were starting production) and said, “I’m very, very worried that you are going to screw up this movie by giving this role to somebody else. It’s my role, and I’ll shoot your dogs if you don’t give it to me.” He was joking, of course.
  • None of the movie scenes, either exterior or interior, were actually filmed in Fargo. The bar exterior shown at the beginning of the movie is located in Northeast Minneapolis.
  • William H. Macy stated in an interview that, despite evidence to the contrary, he did hardly any ad-libbing at all. Most of his character’s stuttering mannerisms were written in the script exactly the way he does them in the film.
  • Jerry Lundegaard’s last name comes from Bob Lundegaard, movie critic for the Minneapolis Star and Tribune from 1973-1986.
  • The reference to “Midwest Federal… talk to ol’ Bill Diehl” is a nod to film critic Bill Diehl, who wrote for the St. Paul Pioneer Press-Dispatch and interviewed the Coen Brothers shortly after the release of Blood Simple..
  • The airplane seen just before Carl goes to the airport parking lot to steal a license plate, is a Northwest DC-9.
  • The irate customer’s name is Bucky (you can hear his wife say his name under her breath).
  • The role of Carl Showalter was written specifically for Steve Buscemi.
  • The duck paintings briefly shown in the Gunderson home were painted by “those Hautmanns,” who are close friends of the Coen brothers. These three brothers frequently win federal and state wildlife stamp competitions.
  • The snow plow that drives past the motel at the end of the film was not part of the script. Signs in the area warned motorists not to drive through due to filming, but a state employee ignored them.
  • The film is not actually “Based on a true story”. The Coens later admitted that they added that disclaimer so the viewer would be more willing to suspend disbelief in the story. (An urban legend even says that people have gone to search Minnesota for the briefcase of money.) While the specific crimes in the movie didn’t happen, the plot has elements of two well-known Minnesota crimes. In 1962, a St. Paul attorney named Eugene Thompson hired someone to kill his wife, Carol. Unbeknownst to Thompson, his man hired someone else to do the job. The second man fatally wounded Mrs. Thomspon in her house, but she managed to escape him. She went to a neighbor’s house for help while her assailant fled the scene. The sloppiness and brutality of the crime attracted great attention. The murderers were quickly caught and gave up Thompson, who denied knowing anything about the crime for many years afterward. In 1972, Virginia Piper, the wife of a wealthy Orono banker, was kidnapped. A million-dollar ransom was paid, one of the largest in U.S. history. Mrs. Piper was found tied to a tree in a state park. Two men were convicted of the crime, but were acquitted after a re-trial. One of them later went on a shooting spree after his wife left him, killing her, their 5-year-old son, her son from a previous marriage, her new boyfriend, and one of his sons. Only $4,000 of the money was ever recovered.
  • Joel Coen had Frances McDormand and John Carroll Lynch conceive a back-story for their characters to get the feel of them. They decided that Norm and Marge met while working on the police force, and when they were married, they had to choose which one had to quit. Since Marge was a better officer, Norm quit and took up painting.
  • The morning talk show hosts on the TV right before Mrs. Lundegaard are kidnapped were actual Minnesota morning talk show hosts for many years during the 80s and early 90s. They hosted a show called “Good Company”.
  • About thirty minutes into the film when Peter Stormare’s character Gaear Grimsrud chases after the eyewitnesses in the car, he says, “Jävla fitta!” which in Swedish means ‘fucking c*nt!’
  • A Danish band called “Diefenbach” has taken their name from the character Riley Diefenbach in this movie.
  • All of the scenes that show Margie (Frances McDormand) with her husband Norm (John Carroll Lynch), they are either eating or lying in bed.
  • During the interview process at the Blue Ox where Frances McDormand interviews Melissa Peterman “Hooker #2”, she mentioned she’s from Le Sueur (MN) but amplifies her answer to include the high school she attended in White Bear Lake (MN). White Bear Lake Area High School (complete with bear mascot – “Go Bears”), formerly White Bear Lake Mariner High, is approximately 75 miles northeast of Le Sueur but significantly closer to Chaska (MN); the birthplace of Larissa Kokernot “Hooker #1” and the probable rationale behind the erroneous association. Although, Hooker #2 never says that White Bear Lake is near Le Sueur.
  • In the scene where Margie asks about the Blue Ox trucker’s stop she says it’s off I-35. In reality I-35 is over 80 miles to the east of Brainerd.
  • There is an enormous amount of pig statuettes, and little pig adorns scattered around Jerry’s house.
  • Bruce Paltrow and Robert Palm wrote a 1997 pilot for a proposed TV series featuring the characters of Marge Gunderson and Officer Lou. It eventually made it to TV as Fargo.
  • When Jerry meets Wade and Stan to discuss the ransom, the restaurant muzak system is playing “Feels So Good” by Chuck Mangione.
  • ‘Frances Mcdormand’ wore a “pregnancy pillow” filled with birdseed to simulate her pregnant belly. She says that she didn’t deliberately try to move in a “pregnant” way, it simply came as a natural response to keeping the extra weight balanced.
  • Peter Stormare had regretted turning down the Coen Brothers for a role in Miller’s Crossing, and so was glad when they offered him a role in this film.
  • Early in the movie Wade is watching a University of Minnesota hockey game. At one point an announcer can be heard saying “goal by Ranheim” and the TV shows the Gophers playing Wisconsin. The goal scorer would be Paul Ranheim, who scored 88 goals for Wisconsin from 1984 to 1988 and later played in the National Hockey League with Calgary, Hartford/Carolina, Philadelphia, and Phoenix.
  • Director Trademark
  • Joel Coen: [Stanley Kubrick] Carl says he’s in town for “just a little of the ol’ in-and-out,” a reference to A Clockwork Orange. When Carl and Gaear are driving outside Minneapolis, the song ‘These Boots are Made for Walkin’ can be heard on the radio, a reference to Full Metal Jacket, which features the same song.
  • Spoilers
  • The trivia items below may give away important plot points.
  • Fuck” and its derivatives are said 75 times, mostly by Carl Showalter. He says 10 of these during the scene where Steve Buscemi shoots Harve Presnell.
  • Body count- 7 (the state trooper, the 2 passers-by, Wade Gustafson, the parking-lot attendant, Jean Lundegaard, and Carl Showalter)
  • Although Frances McDormand’s character is the film’s central role, she does not appear on the screen until over 33 minutes (or 1/3) into the film.
  • Despite hints to the contrary at the time of the film’s release and in the closing credits, Prince does not play the Victim in the Field; this is J. Todd Anderson, who was actually a storyboard artist on the film. This was yet another Coen Brothers in-joke, since Prince was a famous native of Minneapolis, Minnesota. To further muddle matters, this moment in the film was memorialized in a “Snow-Globe” promotion included with a special edition version of the DVD, subtly hinting that the dead victim in the snow was a famous cameo.
  • The opening scene contains what might be a hint at the coming mayhem. In the bar scene, there are seven open beer bottles on the table and the body count by the end of the movie is seven. Empty beer bottles are often called “dead soldiers”. Also, Carl Showalter (Steve Buscemi) is finishing the last beer, number seven, and he is the seventh one killed in the movie.

Talking Points:

  • What do you think makes this movie resonate so strongly with critics.
  • Favorite Character

Critic Notes

  • Positives: Great characters; interesting plot; fun murder mystery with blundering crooks and cops; unique take on the genre
  • Negatives: too low browed, just poking fun at Minnesotan accents – just do the movie; the characters didn’t have enough punch to love or hate them

What We Learned:

  • Second hand smoke is cancerated
  • Steve Beuscemi is funny lookin in a general kinda way.
  • Woodchippers are not the most discrete way to dispose of a body.
  • Theres more to life than a little money, ya know.

Trailer:

Recommendations:
Jeff: Well, ya know, this is one of those movies with a bunch of start and stopping and hiding and such. The only really character I liked in this movie was Marge. I really would have preferred to seen a version of this movie that was just her story and leaved the rest out of it.
Ray: It’s a quirky dark “comedy” that certainly isn’t for everyone. If you are a fan of the crime drama though you should definitely take a look at this. Some people cant seem to process the way this movie combines some over the top ideas with a matter of fact delivery, I on the other hand love it.
Steve: I love this movie. It has some intellectual moments where you have to look past the strange looking and/or sounding characters. It’s a solid “this could happen anywhere” type movie – which is the whole point.

The Present: ParaNorman
Rotten Tomatoes 87% Fresh, 80% Audience

Director: Chris Butler, Sam Fell

Starring: Kodi Smit-McPhee, Anna Kendrick, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Casey Affleck, John Goodman

Trivia:

  • The film was shot using a Canon 5D Mark II DSLR Camera. To generate the 3D effects, the camera was mounted on a special rig that would take one shot, then slide to a slightly different viewpoint to take another shot.
  • The film company Laika used 3D printers to generate all of the different faces needed for the characters.
  • During the last few weeks leading up to the film’s release, Laika sent 49 packages to 49 people (including Neil Gaiman and Kevin Smith). Each package consisted of a wooden crate from “Blithe Hollow” full of “grave dirt” which recipients had to dig through to unearth a coffin. Inside the coffin was one of the seven cursed zombies, complete with background information and name.
  • Save for Judge Hopkins, the seven cursed zombies are not referred to by name, but they did have names: the aforementioned Judge Hopkins, Eben Hardwick, Thaddeus Blackton, Lemuel Spalding, Amelia Wilcot, Goodie Temper, and Wile London.

Talking Points:

  • The dying art of stop motion?
  • Why was this movie not released at Halloween? Should that matter?
  • “Your gonna love my boyfriend”
  • Bullying message

Critic Notes

  • Positives: Good for them for taking on a scary concept; Good for adults and kids; Visually stunning; Laika has the market cornered on stop motion
  • Negatives: Too slow; too many holes in the plot; relied too much on the look and story wasn’t as interesting

What We Learned:

  • Sometimes people say mean things when they are afraid
  • There is nothing wrong with being scared as long as you don’t let it change who you are.
  • Firing guns at civilians is the Police’s job

Trailer:

Recommendations :
Jeff: Ooo, this was a delightful fun movie. The plot is not really told at all in the trailer, kinda reminded me of the Brave situation but not quite. The animation was amazing, the voice acting spectacular, the story was . . . okay. I think it’s worth seeing in the theater. 3D not a requirement.
Ray: While I felt the movie was gorgeous to look at I felt somewhat disappointed by this film, although I did like the overall message of the movie. It could just be that I went to see it after only getting a couple hours of sleep, but I had a hard time staying awake. As a warning I think this may be a little too dark and scary for some younger viewers, the PG rating is there for a reason folks! Oh and I would say skip the 3D.. it’s not necessary for this one. I think I need to get a few more hours of sleep and go see it again.
Steve: I really wanted to love it. However, I only liked it. It looked amazing, but I think the story itself lacked somewhere.

The Future: The Man With The Iron Fists

Release: November 2, 2012

Director: RZA

Starring: Russel Crowe, Cung Le, Lucy Liu

Summary:

In feudal China, a blacksmith who makes weapons for a small village is put in the position where he must defend himself and his fellow villagers.

Talking Points:

  • Not a whole lot…lol

Trailer:

Excitement:
Jeff: Quentin Tarantino involvement, lots of over the top violence, magic-ish armor. I’m sold. Not expecting amazing movie but super fun to watch.
Ray: Possibly one of the most over the top, ridiculous trailers I have seen in a great many years….. I’m so there!
Steve: Clearly, Quentin Tarantino is only making self-indulgent movies these days. I’m not sure about the whole mixing of hip-hop and martial arts, but Batista looks hot! Any Lucy Liu, always awesome!

The Past: The Heroic Trio

The Present: Premium Rush

The Future: Skyfall

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MOV114: “Looks like two pigs fightin’ under a blanket.”

The boys head back in time to review one of the “cultural classics” with “Steel Magnolias”. After putting down the tissue box, it was off to the theater for Oliver Stone’s crime drama “Savages”. In trailer-land, they check out the upcoming college acapella-based comedy “Pitch Perfect”. All of this, an update on the Bourne franchise and will the World of Warcraft film get off the ground? It’s the 114th reel of COL Movies – “Looks like two pigs fighting under a blanket”

News:

The Past: Steel Magnolias

Rotten Tomatoes: 68% Fresh; 88% Audience

Director: Herbert Ross

Staring: Sally Field, Dolly Parton, Olympia Dukakis, Shirley MacLaine, Darryl Hannah, Julia Roberts

Trivia:

  • This movie was based on a play written about a sister of Phi Mu Fraternity. Susan Harling was a member of the Kappa Iota chapter and her brother wrote the play on which the movie is based.
  • Winona Ryder was originally offered the role of Shelby.
  • When Robert Harling last spoke to his sister, he was telling her how hard it was to be a writer in New York and have people consider his work. His sister commented on how she wished she could help him somehow but she didn’t know what she could do. When she died after surgery, Harling wrote the play that this movie is based on in her honor, thereby making him an established and respected writer.
  • Daryl Hannah was originally turned down for the role of Annelle as the director thought that she was too attractive to play the part, she asked if she could come in and read for the part anyway. She arrived at the studio the next day dressed as Annelle and was so unrecognisable that security refused to let her in.
  • Meg Ryan was initially under contract to play Shelby, the Julia Roberts role, but the producers let her out of it to play Sally in When Harry Met Sally…
  • Is shot in the small Louisiana town of Natchitoches. Reportedly, the filmmakers placed such a great strain on the locals, particularly those who volunteered to be extras, that several years later, when the film The Man in the Moon was shot in the same town, extras were difficult to find, as so many townspeople had been burned by the Steel Magnolias crew.
  • M’Lynn’s home is actually two different houses. The Cook-Taylor House, owned by the Henry Taylor family and now a Bed and Breakfast in Natchitoches, was used for the outside front of the house, and most of the scenes inside the home and in the back yard. It is on Front Street by the river and can be easily located, as it is now known as “The Steel Magnolias Bed and Breakfast.” During filming, the Taylors moved out and rented an apartment.
  • There is no parish or town in Louisiana known as Chinquapin. “Chinquapin” is the name for a type of fish and a particular breed of oak tree. The town of Natchitoches in the parish of the same name served as the backdrop for the film. The town was named after the “NAKTOSH” Indians whose names means “chinquapin eaters”. Natchitoches actually does have a large Christmas Light Festival annually. Natchitoches was also the first settlement in the Louisiana Territory.
  • After a poor take, director Herbert Ross reprimanded Dolly Parton and asked her if she could act. She replied “No, but it’s your job to make me look like I can!”
  • On the DVD’s commentary track, Herbert Ross describes how Georges Delerue was not his first choice as a composer for this film. Another “well known” composer’s music was rejected but he fails to say who.
  • There was some initial resistance to casting Sally Field as M’Lynn, because the producers thought no one would believe her as the mother of a 22-year-old until she pointed out that, in real life, she had a 22-year-old son.
  • Dolly Parton and Daryl Hannah studied hair stylists so their scenes where they are doing hair would be real and authentic.
  • When Bette Davis saw the off-Broadway play, she thought it would be a great film for her, envisioning herself as Ouiser, Katharine Hepburn as Clairee, and Elizabeth Taylor as Truvy. However, when she contacted the rights holders for the movie adaptation, she found out that they intended to cast much younger actresses.
  • Opened on Broadway on Monday, April 4th, 2005 at the Lyceum Theater and ran for 136 performances.
  • Ouiser mentions that she and her friends used to dress up like nuns and go barhopping when they were young. Shirley MacLaine played a woman who dressed up as a whiskey-drinking nun in Two Mules for Sister Sara.
  • The title has been said to suggest that the main characters are delicate as magnolias but tough as steel, but this is not explained in the movie. The only references to the two words are Ouiser’s near accusation of Drum of stealing Magnolias from her tree, and then a later comment by M’Lynn that men are supposed to be made out of steel.
  • Between the six female principals are twelve Academy Award nominations and five wins. Only Daryl Hannah and Dolly Parton have not won, although Parton was nominated for Best Song from “Nine to Five” and “Transamerica.”
  • Writer Robert Harling has said that the film follows the last three years of his sister’s life.
  • In the original source play, there are no on-stage roles for men. Although the characters all spend a great deal of time talking about the men in their lives, no male character ever actually appears during the play.
  • Herbert Ross wanted an authentic feel to the hospital scenes, so he hired the doctors and nurses who tended to the writer’s sister (on whom the movie and play are based) during her last days in hospital to play themselves during Julia Roberts’ scenes on life support.
  • Robert Harling, the man who wrote the play ‘Steel Magnolias’ in honor of his sister, plays the pastor who performs Shelby’s wedding and then again her funeral.
  • Robert Harling’s mother was on set during the filming of the scenes while Shelby was in the hospital. During the scene when Shelby is taken off life support she was asked if she wanted to leave. She declined, saying that once the scene was over she wanted to see Shelby – Julia Roberts – get up and walk away.

Talking Points:

  • That was the most severe case of Diabetes I have EVER SEEN.
  • The ensemble
  • Which Steel Magnolia are you?

Critic Notes

  • Positives: ensemble performance was excellent; superficial yet endearing; it may have flaws, but I laugh and cry every time I see it (so sue me)
  • Negatives: cliche’ plot; main cast sounded like they were reading bumper sticker one liners the entire movie

What We Learned:

  • There is no such thing as natural beauty
  • If you can achieve puberty you can have a past
  • An ounce of pretension worth a pound of manure
  • Personal Tragedy should not interfere with your ability to do good hair.
  • Iced tea is the house wine of the south
  • 30 Minutes of wonderful is better than a lifetime of nothing special
  • The only thing that separates us from the animals is our ability to accessorise
  • All gay men have track lighting and are named Rick, Mark or STEVE.

Trailer:

Recommendations:
Rick: This is one of those fun Chick flicky movie but for some reason I wouldn’t really call it a chick flick. Definitely a gay card stampable film. It’s a nice movie, see it at least once for your gay card and maybe again every couple of years or so.
Mark: Cute, sad, loved Sally Fields performance… It did seem a little extreme with the tone, but overall a decent watch.
Steve: I can never pass up this movie if it’s on tv. Maybe it’s a Southern thing, but I feel like it’s a big slice of culture that really exists and shows how the veil of perfection is maintained by prototypical Southern women – and how the truth is that they run the world while allowing their husband to think he does! You can’t help but laugh at the plethora one one liners and amazing performances. Can’t miss – can watch it with your girlfriends, your “gurl-friends”, your mom, or your grandmother.

The Present: Savages

Rotten Tomatoes: 54% Rotten; 61% Audience

Director: Oliver Stone

Starring: Taylor Kitsch, Blake Lively, Aaron Johnson, Salma Hayek, Benecio Del Toro, John Travolta

Trivia:

  • Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hardy, Garrett Hedlund and James Franco were considered to play Ben.
  • Jennifer Lawrence was originally cast as O, but pulled out in order to star in The Hunger Games. Before Blake Lively was cast, Olivia Wilde, Abbie Cornish, Amber Heard and Teresa Palmer were considered, and Lindsay Lohan expressed interest.
  • Oliver Stone began working on the screenplay adaptation before the book was published. So confidant he was of this story that he himself contributed to investing in the project.
  • Although this is the sixth time that Fernando Lara and Oliver Stone have worked together, it will be Lara’s first credited appearance in one of Stone’s films.
  • Not only did Demián Bichir and Benicio Del Toro co-star in Steven Soderbergh’s movies on Che Guevara, but Oliver Stone had previously filmed several interviews with Fidel Castro, whom Bichir played in the Che Guevara films. Gonzalo Menendez also played Castro in The Lost City
  • Taylor Kitsch received training from real Navy SEALs as a part of his preparation for the film.
  • Third time that Gary Stretch has acted under director Oliver Stone.
  • Originally scheduled for a Fall release, the opening date was immediately moved to July following the first screening for the studio.
  • Oliver Stone cast Taylor Kitsch after watching his performance in footage from Battleship, which was still in post-production at the time.
  • Oliver Stone instructed Blake Lively to take firearm training for her role. Despite not being experienced at the gun range, she hit center mass in her first three shots.
  • Oliver Stone wrote a new role for Trevor Donovan after the part he had originally auditioned for was cut out.
  • Taylor Kitsch performed his own stunts.
  • For legal reasons, all the marijuana plants in the film are artificial. The production designers visited legal medical marijuana growers to get the details right.
  • This is Oliver Stone’s first film in nearly 17 years to be photographed with Panavision anamorphic lenses. After Nixon in 1995, his 2.35:1 films were cropped to that ratio via shooting in Super 35. He was convinced to return to anamorphic by cinematographer Daniel Mindel, who has shot all of his features except Domino in the format. Mindel told Stone during their first meeting that if the plan was to shoot in Super 35 or digitally, then he wasn’t the right man for the job.
  • Uma Thurman was cast as Paqu, O’s mother but her scenes were cut from the movie.
  • Jake McLaughlin who plays Doc, is a real life Iraq war veteran.
  • Shipped to theaters under the code name “Paqu”.
  • The funny jingle and ringtone that La Reina uses is the theme song of one of the most famous and popular shows in the history of Mexican TV: El chavo del ocho.

Talking Points:

  • Individual Performances

Critic Notes

  • Positives: The movie may be aggravating and falters, but Stone made a solid film; Salma Hayek; the mood flips on a dime dependent on the situations in the film – not many people other than Stone could pull that off; Shows a ruthless energy; Stone showed his fearless side making this film
  • Negatives: The main characters are not good people and not worth caring about; botched ending; exceptionally flashy mayhem; juvenile fantasy; muddled storyline; utterly boring; predictable and strained

What We Learned:

  • Drugs are a rational response to insanity

Trailer:

Recommendations :
Jeff: You know, I thought this movie was going to have a lot more fighty fighty and blood and guts. It didn’t give me what I was expecting and while most of the acting was good, some was over the top and cheesy. There was something able Selma Hayek’s performance which felt phoned in. Travolta did a great job I though. Overall, it was decent, okay to see in the theaters but also okay to wait until rental.
Ray: Brutal, brutal movie. An interesting take on the onscreen love affair between 3 people. If you like a good crime drama with an interesting symmetry between the major players this is definitely worth a watch.
Steve: Salma Hayek was so awesome in this film and a total highlight. Otherwise, the first 30 minutes was totally uncomfortable for me and I literally didn’t want to stay for the rest. But once it got into the stuff between them and La Rena, it started to get interesting. Overall though, just not my kind of movie.

The Future: Pitch Perfect

Release: October 5, 2012

Director: Jason Moore

Starring: Brittany Snow, Anna Kendrick, Rebel Wilson

Summary:

Beca, a freshman at Barton University, is cajoled into joining The Bellas, her school’s all-girls singing group. Injecting some much needed energy into their repertoire, The Bellas take on their male rivals in a campus competition.

Talking Points:

  • The obvious Glee comparison
  • The world of competitive college acapella
  • Could be too niche to be successful
  • On The Rocks


Trailer:

Excitement:
Jeff: I’m actually excited to see this movie. Mainly for the songs. The rest of the movie is going to be complete and utter crap but the songs are going to be what makes this movie worth it. I almost hope there is next to no story and the scenes between the songs are just 1-2 minutes on only there to transition between songs.
Ray: Glee meets Step up + Bridesmaids? Trailer looks decent, but this would be a rental for me.. and no not because Id be ashamed to see it in the theater.. I own that I’m a choir geek.
Steve: As a former acapella group guy, I’m interested if for no other reason to see what they represent about the wacky world of college acapella. Otherwise, it’s all about supporting my fellow alum Brittany Snow (Go Gaither!) and to see what Rebel Wilson does!

The Past:

The Present:

The Future:

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MOV090: “Two Men Enter, One Man Leave!”

We’re only 10 reels away from the 100th show…who knew? In this reel, the boys head back in time to check out Tina Turner and Mel Gibson in the 1980’s classic “Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome”. In theaters, they check out the return of Selene in “Underworld Awakening”. Should they just have let her stay asleep? In trailer news, they check out “ParaNorman”, an animated comedic thriller from the makers of “Coraline”. It’s a slow news week, so we’ll just get to the point here… “Two Men Enter, One Man Leave!”

News:

  • Nada this week!

The Past: Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome (1985)
Rotten Tomatoes: 81% Fresh, 50% Audience

Director: George Miller, George Ogilvie

Starring: Mel Gibson, Tina Turner, Bruce Spence

Trivia:

  • The script called for Aunt Entity (Tina Turner) to drive a vehicle. All of the vehicles were built using manual transmissions, which Turner couldn’t drive, so a car equipped with an automatic transmission had to be constructed.
  • Director/Co-Writer George Miller was given the rights to Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior and this one to get him to step aside as the director of Contact.
  • Two directors were hired so that George Miller could concentrate on the stunts and action scenes, while George Ogilvie handled the performances of the large cast of actors.
  • Originally, the film was supposed to be about a group of children living without parents in the wild. They were trying to decide what adult character would find them, when someone thought of Max. After that suggestion, it became a “Mad Max” film.
  • The film references a novel by Russell Hoban called “Riddley Walker” about a hero traveling in post-apocalyptic England.
  • The possible outcomes on the Wheel are: – Death – Hard Labour – Acquittal – Gulag – Aunty’s Choice – Spin Again – Forfeit Goods – Underworld – Amputation – Life Imprisonment
  • Max’s eyes are different; the pupil in his left eye is permanently dilated. This is a nod to Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior: When his car is forced off the road by Wez and Max crashes, he suffers a severe injury to, among other body parts, his left eye. The disparity is easier to see in close-ups, and VERY easy to see in HD versions of the film. In the regular version, it’s most prominent when Max first looks down on the Thunderdome.
  • The poster art for this film was one of the last done by Richard Amsel.
  • Aunty Entity’s (Tina Turner) steel mail dress weighed more than 55 kilograms.
  • The sandstorm at the end of the film was real, and a camera plane actually did fly into it for some shots. The storm in its entirety hit the crew in the desert, forcing them to ride it out in their cars and wherever they could find cover.
  • Max’s shotgun differs in this movie from the one he used in Mad Max and Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior, which was his duty weapon. This one has exposed hammers and a different grip.
  • Jedidiah’s airplane is a Transavia PL-12 ‘Airtruk’, a single-engine agricultural biplane designed by Transavia in Australia. First flown in 1965, around 120 had been built by the time this movie was made.
  • All of the pigs in the film foreshadow George Miller’s involvement with Babe and directing its sequel ten years later.
  • The first of the series made with American financing. Which explains why American stars like Tina Turner crop up in the film.
  • The age certificates of each Mad Max picture have gone down from an 18, to a 15 and with Thunderdome a PG. Because the films mostly appeal to a teen demographic, George Miller may have been pushing the series towards a more mainstream audience. Which would explain why half the cast is made up of children.
  • George Miller lost interest in the project after his friend and producer Byron Kennedy was killed in a helicopter crash while location scouting. That may explain why Miller only handled the action scenes while George Ogilvie handled the rest. The film is dedicated to Byron Kennedy.
  • The music video for Tupac Shakur’s 1996 hit “California Love” was shot at the Thunderdome set and features vehicles and clothes inspired by the Mad Max series.
  • Bruce Spence, who played the Gyro Captain in Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior plays Jedediah, a different character who robs Max at the start of the film. Confusingly, both characters use flying machines (in Mad Max 2 it was a ‘Gyrocopter’, in Mad Max 3 a Transavia PL-12 ‘Airtruk’) and little is done to differentiate the two different characters.
  • Max’s name is only spoken once in the movie. Just after he meets Master Blaster in underworld. Master says “Me Master” and introduces himself, then Max says “Me Max” and does the same.
  • In interviews about Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior (a.k.a. “The Road Warrior”), George Miller said that while Max’s world was after the collapse of the social/political/economic system we know, it was not post-World War III. However, “Beyond Thunderdome” explicitly contradicts this.
  • This film is considered an “Ozploitation” (Australian exploitation) picture.
  • Tina Turner’s character is billed as Aunty Entity, but nowhere in the film does anyone call her that. She’s always referred to as just Aunty.

Talking Points:

  • Seeing old favorites again…
  • The Tone of the film
  • Steve’s story about this film… 😉

What We’ve Learned:

  • Surviving nuclear war gives the nobody’s a chance to be somebody
  • Death is listening, and apparently taking the first one that screams
  • Spider monkeys are excellent trackers.
  • Bust a deal..face the wheel.
  • Two men enter, one man leave.
  • We don’t need another hero. We don’t need to know the way home. All we want is life beyond Thunderdome.

Trailer:

Recommendations:
Jeff: First time viewer . . . I need to see it again. I’m kinda in a mixed bag on this movie. I kinda liked it but my attention wasn’t fully there. I think it might be worth at least a look see once.
Ray: This movie is an example of a film who when you were younger seemed a whole lot better than it actually was.
Steve: Always been one of my favorites, but seemed so much more epic as a child. I LIVED for this movie for a while…and Tina is the BEST!

The Present: Underworld: Awakening
Rotten Tomatoes: 28% Rotten; 74% Audience

Director: Måns Mårlind, Björn Stein

Starring: Kate Beckinsale, Michael Ealy, India Eisley

Trivia:

  • Jalmari Helander was offered a chance to direct.
  • the first film in the series to be in real-d 3-d and Imax 3-d.
  • The film’s release date is on the same day as Underworld: Evolution’s, released six years earlier.
  • The first Underworld film not to feature Bill Nighy or Michael Sheen

Talking Points:

  • Live up to the other ones?
  • Do we like a kinder, gentler Selene?
  • Michael…
  • The Kid…
  • Lycans or Vampires?
  • Soundtrack

What We Learned:

  • When escaping from your enemies, getting your outfit on is way more important than feasting on fresh blood

Trailer:

Recommendations :
Jeff: It’s just another Underworld movie and not as good as the others. I was surprised to see JMS’s name on the screen at the end. I think this could have been pretty good but ended up lacking in . . . something.
Ray: ugh, I was hoping that J.Michael Strazynski was going to make this somewhat interesting. Unfortunately he disappointed me.
Steve: Personally didn’t think it lived up to the previous movies. I didn’t care for the “mystery child” and “let’s shoot ourselves up with werewolf blood” stuff. I was actually bored with the stories, but I did like the visuals.

The Future: ParaNorman

Release: August 17th, 2012

Director: Chris Butler, Sam Fell

Starring: Kodi Smit-McPhee, Anna Kendrick, Christopher Mintz-Plasse

Summary:

In this comedy thriller, a small town comes under siege by the undead. Only a misunderstood local boy Norman Babcock, who has the ability to speak with the dead, is able to prevent the destruction of his town from a centuries-old curse. He’ll also have to take on ghosts, witches, zombies and worst of all, the moronic grown-ups. But this young ghoul whisperer may find his paranormal activities pushed to their otherworldly limits

Trivia:

  • ParaNorman is an upcoming 3D stop-motion animated comedy thriller film produced by Laika, distributed by Focus Features and set for international release on August 17, 2012

Talking Points:

  • Whatcha think?

Trailer:
Official Teaser:

Trailer 2:

Excitement:
Jeff: Wow, what a teaser. The track used was perfect and the visuals were executed perfectly. Not telling you much of what it’s about but intriguing you to want to find out more. The second trailer gives a little more but not too much. Definitely want to see in 3D.
Ray: The Trailer had me at “From the creators of Coraline”
Steve: I totally enjoyed this trailer!! Totally looks like my kind of” just go and have a good time” kinda fun.

Coming Attractions

The Past:

The Present:

The Future:

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MOV014: “I’m just a little bi-furious!”

Evangelion 1.11: You Are (Not) Alone, Scott Pilgrim Vs The World, RED, and much discussion on Star Wars coming to Blu-Ray

News:

The Past: Evangelion 1.11: You Are (Not) Alone

Director: Hideake Anno (supervising)

Staring: Megumi Ogata/ Spike Spencer (Shinji), Megumi Hayashibara/Brina Palencia (Rei), Kotono Mitsuishi / Allison Keith(Misato)

Trivia:

  • Based of the Series Neon Genesis Evangelion – Which ran in Japan for 26 episodes from 1995 to 1996 in Japan – and has grossed over 150 billion yen.
  • As an April Fools joke for 2009, USA and Canada distributor FUNimation Entertainment released a bogus but well known cast list for the main characters, in the vein of the success of the Hollywood cast in Afro Samurai: Resurrection (2009). It included Shia LaBeouf as Shinji Ikari, Lindsay Lohan as Rei Ayanami, Miley Cyrus as Asuka Langley Sohryu, Angelina Jolie as Misato Katsuragi, Samuel L. Jackson as Gendou Ikari, and Sean Penn as Pen Pen.
  • In the Japanese version – The Character Shinji Icari is played by a girl and the Voice Actress who plays Rei Ayinami refuses to voice any other characters in Japanese anime other than Rei and Pikachu
  • Studio basically stopped paying its taxes to have the money to fund this and the second movie of the planned Tetraology – has since gotten the ok from the studio for and “Unlimited” budget and “Unlimited” Timeframe to work on the remaining two films.
  • The DVD Release featured over 266 shots that received minor enhancements from the theatrical release.
  • A real version of the cellphone used by Misato was released by Sharp – The limited edition phone sold for $900 US and easily goes for over $1000 on ebay, all 20,000k phones available for pre-order sold out in 5 minutes.

Talking Points:

  • English or Japanese – How did you watch it?
  • The Differences between American and Japanese perceptions of Animation (for kids / for adults)
  • Live action Evangelion Movie “In Development Hell” would it work?
  • There is much debate as to if this movie is a re-telling of the original series, or a sequel to the series – How does this movie stand up to viewing if you have never seen the original series

What We’ve Learned:

  • In Japan – Everything Explodes!
  • Japanese Cities are amazingly resistant to everything that explodes!
  • Extremely complicated artificial beings are amazingly easy to operate with very little training
  • Whiny insecure emotionally neurotic children make the best mecha pilots
  • Warm Water Penguins can read the newspaper
  • You Mustn’t run away.
  • Misato Did Indeed Change the Carpet (inside joke to EVA fans)

Trailer:

Recommendations:
Jeff: Amazing! Anime fan, buy it. Not an Anime fan, rent it.
Ray: Check it out, If you dig it, check out the series and two original movies then come back and watch this movie again.
Steve: Great story, visually appealing. As a fan of Robotech, I approve as an upgrade.

The Present: Scott Pilgrim Vs The World

Director: Edgar Wright

Staring: Michael Cera, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Kieran Culkin, Ellen Wong, Anna Kendrick, Alison Pill, Mark Webber & Johnny Simmons

Trivia:

  • In 2009 Edgar Wright started a year long photo blog where he would take at least one picture every day and post it on his website. Much of the cast and crew appeared in this daily photo blog while they were shooting, most of the time with no direct credit given and their faces partially obscured in some way.
  • One of the evil exes that Scott (Michael Cera) must defeat is Roxy Richter (Mae Whitman) who previously played Cera’s character’s girlfriend in “Arrested Development” (2003).
  • During the editing process, Edgar Wright showed filmmakers Quentin Tarantino, Jason Reitman, and Kevin Smith a rough cut of the film, to which they responded positively.
  • Edgar Wright thought of casting Michael Cera as the titular character after watching episodes of Arrested Development (2003) during the writing of Hot Fuzz (2007).
  • The stunt doubles of Lucas Lee are actually the stunt doubles for Chris Evans. Only a quarter of the doubles resemble Evans.
  • Edgar Wright obtained permission to use the famous theme song from the NES title, The Legend of Zelda (1986), by writing a letter to Nintendo, saying that it is considered to be “the nursery rhyme of this generation”. He was also allowed to use the “Seinfeld” (1990) theme song for a sitcom-style sequence.
  • The wide open eyes of Knives Chau was not created with any practical or CGI effects. Ellen Wong, who plays Chau, did it herself.
  • Although Anna Kendrick (cast as Stacey Pilgrim, age 18) plays the younger sister to Michael Cera’s character (Scott Pilgrim, age 22), in real life Kendrick is nearly 3 years older than Cera.

Talking Points:

  • Did you have any sort of emotional connection with the main characters?
  • This movie didn’t do so hot its opening weekend, why? surprised?
  • Some of the best Fight Choreography Ive seen, Very little use of the ADHD Handheld shakey cam editing technique! Thank god!

What We’ve Learned:

  • Everyone has Baggage.. some peoples baggage can be fatal
  • It snows a lot in April In toronto
  • Orgasms can be fatal

Trailer:

Recommendations:

Jeff: AMAZING!
Ray: Highly Entertaining, visually Striking, Story is a little hollow.
Steve: Very entertaining, kept my attention, big fan of the quips that make you think

The Future: RED

Starring: Bruce Willis, Morgan Freeman, Helen Mirren, John Malkovich, Mary Louise Parker

Trivia:

  • Based on The Graphic Novel from DC comics
  • John C. Reilly was set to be in the movie but dropped out and was replaced by John Malkovich.
  • While filming in Toronto, the police received several phone calls reporting machine gun fire after local residents mistook the movie’s gunshot effects for the real thing.

Talking Points:
This looks like a whole lot of fun! story looks a little played out (retired spy/secret agent forced back into service)

Summary:
Frank (Bruce Willis), Joe (Morgan Freeman), Marvin (John Malkovich) and Victoria (Helen Mirren) used to be the CIAs top agents but the secrets they know just made them the Agencys top targets. Now framed for assassination, they must use all of their collective cunning, experience and teamwork to stay one step ahead of their deadly pursuers and stay alive. To stop the operation, the team embarks on an impossible, cross-country mission to break into the top-secret CIA headquarters, where they will uncover one of the biggest conspiracies and cover-ups in government history.

Trailer:

Excitement:
Jeff: Very excited despite the fact that John Malkovich is in it.
Ray: Ill see this Just for Helen Mirren
Steve: Helen Mirren as a contract killer/CIA agent? I’m in!

Coming Attractions

The Past: The Craft
The Present: The Expendables
The Future: The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader

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