Quotes – Planet of the Apes

September 28, 2007

Planet of the Apes

Well, you know what they say. Human see, human do.

Fun trivia: Ever think that Planet of the Apes is kind of like an extended episode of The Twilight Zone? Well, there’s a reason. Rod Serling, the creator of The Twilight Zone, wrote the screenplay for it with Michael Wilson (It’s a Wonderful Life, Lawrence of Arabia), based on the book by Pierre Boulle.

Of course, Rod Serling was most recognizable for his role as the host of The Twilight Zone – you know, that guy with the very. precise. voice. who appeared suddenly at the beginning of each episode to introduce the story? Yep, he helped write the screenplay for Planet of the Apes. Intriguing, isn’t it…

Wait, is that a signpost up ahead? (sorry, couldn’t resist)


Legislation introduced to restrict inflight movies

September 27, 2007

Because there just aren’t enough restrictions surrounding airplanes these days, legislation has recently been introduced by two Congress Representatives that asks for changes to the way airlines show inflight movies.

From AP:

Prompted by parents’ complaints about sex and violence in inflight movies, two congressmen introduced legislation Tuesday calling for airlines to create kid-friendly zones on planes.

“The airlines have chosen to put our children in a situation that I don’t feel comfortable with,” said Rep. Heath Shuler, a North Carolina Democrat.

He and Republican Rep. Walter Jones, also from North Carolina, call their proposal the Family Friendly Flights Act. 

…The bill calls for the creation of sections on commercial flights where there would not be any publicly viewable movie screens. It would still allow airlines to show the movies they choose on big screens in other sections, or on individual seatback screens.

Oh good. Now it won’t just be the snoring guy next to me that’ll keep me up on that international flight – I’ll get woken up by kids trying to sneak into the R rated section of the plane as well.

In any case, you know that (deep down) they’re really just doing this in a final, desperate attempt to quarantine those crying children in a distant section of the plane, lulling them to sleep with repeated showings of Clifford’s Really Big Movie. 

And who are the parents behind this legislation, you ask?

One of the parents who complained to Shuler was Katie Kelley, who said she was on a plane last February when an R-rated movie with “a lot of nudity” was shown. She said she was traveling without her children, ages 4 and 7, but was still bothered by the situation.

Man, the planes that I’ve been on without those (sigh, wonderful) little individual screens only ever show Just My Luck and She’s the Man. Clearly I need to change airlines.


Madeleine L’Engle

September 27, 2007

A Wrinkle in Time movie

As most of you probably know, author Madeleine L’Engle died this month at the age of 88. I’m a bit late perhaps, but I thought it fitting to pay tribute to this science fiction and fantasy legend and her classic (and quite poetically named) novel, A Wrinkle in Time.

Amazingly (or perhaps not), there has been only one movie, a TV movie, based on the book. What did Madeleine think of it, according to Newsweek?

NEWSWEEK: So you’ve seen the movie?
Madeleine L’Engle:
I’ve glimpsed it.

And did it meet expectations?
Oh, yes. I expected it to be bad, and it is.

The movie she’s referring to featured a “watered down” version of the story, in particular in regards to its religious elements (sound familiar?).

So has a better or at least feature film not been made for fear of religious controversy? Or perhaps due to its heavy science content, or the difficulty (i.e., expense involved) in satisfactorily reproducing a classic fantasy book?

Who knows. But here are some fun facts about this well-known tale to help make my case for a great Wrinkle in Time feature:

But you see, Meg, just because we don’t understand doesn’t mean that the explanation doesn’t exist.

The opening line

The book begins with the line “it’s a dark and stormy night.” Cliché? Perhaps. But it’s still lots of fun, and of course perfect for the movies.

Trivia: It had to start somewhere… That inescapable line was originally written by Lord Edward Bulwer-Lytton in his novel Paul Clifford.

Rejection

Like many classic books, A Wrinkle in Time was, according to the NY Times, rejected by 26 publishers before finally being published at Farrar, Straus & Giroux. To give another example of a rejected classic: Harry Potter was also turned down by publishers – though naturally, accounts of how many times vary, from just a few to about a dozen (her stack of rejection letters was thiiissss big!). JK Rowling herself, and hopefully she knows, says in an interview:

“Four or five publishers turned it down, I think, and the consistent criticism was, ‘It’s far too long for children.’”

An article in the National Review Online also notes that “…a British publisher that rejected The Sorcerer’s Stone did so because it was “too literary.”” Ah yes, the typical complaint against (eventual) huge bestsellers.

Popularity

Again according to the NY Times, A Wrinkle in Time (1962) has sold 8 million copies and is now in its 69th printing. Sure, JK Rowling can sell that amount in about a day (with her hands tied behind her back), but considering that 12 million copies of the three books in Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials series have been sold worldwide so far and around 10 million copies of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz have been sold since it was first published… in 1900… – the figure sounds a bit more impressive.

Series

Not a lone classic like Catcher in the Rye, A Wrinkle in Time is actually the first book in a series, although it is without question the most read and the most famous book in the series. The other three (A Wind in the Door, Many Waters, A Swiftly Tilting Planet) combine with A Wrinkle in Time to form the series “Time Quartet” about the Murry family. So no need to come up with a Wrinkle in Time 2: The College Years for that summer franchise. Phew!

For a complete list of Madeleine’s works, click here.

Tradition of children’s fantasy

The Chronicles of Narnia. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. Alice in Wonderland. Harry Potter. The Golden Compass (hopefully). Most anything by Roald Dahl (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Matilda). Some of the greatest classic books of all time have been made into the greatest classic movies of all time. And really, I think there’s room for one more in the pantheon.

Some fun, and of course entirely random, trivia: Roald Dahl wrote 6 episodes of Alfred Hitchcock Presents… Perhaps an odd pairing at first sight, but when you think about it, you can certainly see a shade (or more than just a shade) of Hitchcock in Dahl’s books. Hordes of squirrels attacking a girl? Yep, that’s what I thought.

Controversy

A Wrinkle of Time has frequently been banned for its religious and mythological themes. It’s number 22 on the American Library Association’s list of the 100 Most Challenged Books of 1990-2000. Harry Potter is number 7 and Bridge to Terabithia (another film adaptation) is number 9. Which brings me to…

Themes

Time travel. Science. Love. Religion. Good vs. evil.

Controversial and heartwarming? If that doesn’t scream movie, I don’t know what does.

Hayao Miyazaki: closeted Wrinkle in Time fan?

Live action fantasy is expensive, limited and time consuming. Animation is expensive and time consuming, sure, but the possiblities? Practically endless. And Miyazaki’s record with animated fantasy adaptations? Spotless.

His most recent adaptation of fantasy literature was Howl’s Moving Castle, inspired by the book of the same name by Diana Wynne Jones, author of the Chrestomanci fantasy series (think Harry Potter, but with more eccentricity, a smaller castle and less children).

Miyazaki was even originally interested in directing an animated version of Ursula LeGuin’s Earthsea novels, although his son Goro ended up making the animated film (titled Tales from Earthsea) instead.

As Ursula LeGuin herself says:

Twenty or so years ago, Mr Hayao Miyazaki wrote me expressing interest in making an animated film based on the (then only three) books of Earthsea. I did not know his work. I knew only Disney-type animation, and disliked it. I said no.

Six or seven years ago, my friend Vonda N. McIntyre told me about My Neighbor Totoro and we watched it together. I became a Miyazaki fan at once and forever. I consider him a genius of the same caliber as Kurosawa or Fellini.

With praise like that, plus Miyazaki’s additional background in science fiction, who else better to direct an animated version of A Wrinkle in Time? Dubbed, limited release in art house theaters, here we come!

Plot

At this point, if you haven’t read the book, you might be saying: okay, that’s all well and good, but what is this book actually about?

Here then is a (spoiler free) plot summary, taken from Madeleine L’Engle’s official site (because who can describe the book better than her?):

Meg Murry, her little brother Charles Wallace, and their mother are having a midnight snack on a dark and stormy night when an unearthly stranger appears at their door. She claims to have been blown off course, and goes on to tell them that there is such a thing as a “tesseract,” which, if you didn’t know, is a wrinkle in time.

Meg’s father had been experimenting with time-travel when he suddenly disappeared. Will Meg, Charles Wallace, and their friend Calvin outwit the forces of evil as they search through space for their father?


EU handing out film awards

September 26, 2007

In a world grossly underserved by awards shows and movie honors, the European Union itself is finally stepping up to the plate in a long overdue move: they are creating their own movie award.

According to The Hollywood Reporter:

The new prize, the Prix LUX, will be the first to be picked directly by the 785 elected members of the European Parliament in Brussels. The Parliament will then pay to subtitle and produce prints of the winning film in all 23 of the E.U.’s official languages.

The European Parliament unveiled the new prize on Sunday at the 55th San Sebastian international film festival.

Now I say, why stop there? The United Nations should not let the EU show them up. A UN Star to the film that best illustrates “global integration,” and a promise that the movie will then be subtitled in all the languages represented by the UN’s 192 member states (not just the six official languages of the UN – that’s way too unimpressive).

No problem! (in Mandarin Chinese)

[In case you were wondering, the six official languages of the UN are Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian, and Spanish.]


Alfred Hitchcock cheat sheet

September 25, 2007

Sure, you know he’s famous, and you know his name is associated with some movie involving a shower, a knife and a crazy guy in a motel, but what else do you really know about Alfred Hitchcock and his movies?

And so Buttercups and Ravenwood presents… Alfred Hitchcock.

Alfred Hitchcock Presents

Bitty bio: Actually born before the turn of the century (1899), Alfred Hitchcock truly witnessed the entire evolution of cinema – from silent films, to talking black and white, to color. The British son of a Roman Catholic greengrocer, he first entered the film industry through art design and directed his first complete film in 1925, the commercial flop, The Pleasure Garden. He then went on to direct (and produce) more than 60 feature films. He also appeared in uncredited roles in many of his own films and ran a successful television show, Alfred Hitchcock Presents / The Alfred Hitchcock Hour (remember that silhouette?), for a decade.

As a classic director, he naturally never won an Academy Award for Best Director, although his film Rebecca did win the Oscar for Best Picture (he did not produce that film and thus, did not get the Oscar for it). He did, however, get that popular consolation prize, the Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award, from the Academy for his efforts in 1968. He died in 1980. And by the way, that’s Sir Alfred Hitchcock to you.

Here (what I believe anyway) are his most classic and/or famous films, in chronological order:

For those who want to keep the ending a mystery…

The Man Who Knew Too Much – And you thought the title of that Bill Murray film was just a clever invention. This 1934 film (remade in 1956 by Hitchcock himself and with Jimmy Stewart and Doris Day starring) concerns a vacationing couple (Bob and Jill) who are passed valuable information about an assassination plot from a dying spy. To prevent the couple from revealing what they know about the plot, the people behind it kidnap the couple’s daughter, Betty. The movie follows the couple’s attempts to get her back.

The 39 Steps – Based on a novel by John Buchanan, this is a classic tale from 1935 of espionage and an innocent man on the run from the law (no, not “The Fugitive”). It involves a Canadian man (Richard Hannay, played by Robert Donat), essentially an innocent bystander, who is swept up in a world of spies and assassins after witnessing a fight at a London theater. He is accused of killing Annabella Smith (Lucie Mannheim), a spy who was murdered while she was in his apartment, but not before she told him of an organisation called “The 39 Steps” that was out to get her.

Rebecca – Starring Laurence Olivier as Maxim de Winter and Joan Fontaine as the new Mrs. de Winter, this 1940 adaptation of Daphne du Maurier’s gothic novel tells the story of a young woman who meets and soon marries the rich Maxim de Winter only to find his house haunted (figuratively but perhaps also literally) by the spirit of his late wife, Rebecca. The housekeeper Mrs. Danvers, in particular, loved Rebecca and does everything in her power to make Mrs. de Winter feel unwanted and, essentially, to drive her mad. As noted above, it won Best Picture (and Best Cinematography).

Shadow of a Doubt – Supposedly Hitchcock’s own favorite, this film noir from 1943 concerns Charlie Newton (short for Charlotte), played by Teresa Wright, who receives a visit from her favorite Uncle, Charlie Oakley (short for Charles), played by Joseph Cotton. After a detective reveals that her uncle is a suspected serial killer (the ominous-sounding “Merry Widow Murderer”), Charlie begins to become suspicious of her uncle’s increasingly condemning behavior.

Notorious – From 1946, this dark romance / spy film starring Cary Grant, Ingrid Bergman and Claude Rains concerns the wild daughter of a German spy (Bergman as Alicia Huberman) who is asked by a government agent (Grant as T.R. Devlin) to spy on her father’s Nazi friends in Brazil. Alicia falls in love with Devlin, but he needs her to marry one of the Nazis, Alex Sebastian (Rains). Agony ensues.

Strangers on a Train – Not just a CSI episode, this 1951 film (yet another literary adaptation, this time from Patricia Highsmith) tells of two, uh, strangers who meet on a (you guessed it!) train and discuss murder. Guy Haines (Farley Granger) will murder the father of Bruno Antony (Robert Walker) and Antony will murder Haines’s unwanted and unfaithful wife, thereby allowing them both to committ murder without getting caught (because neither one actually has a connection to their respective victims, get it?). Haines thinks it was just “idle” talk (yes, I can see how he would make that mistake…), but then his wife is murdered. Hmm.

Dial M for Murder – From 1954 and based on a play, this tale of suspense concerns ex-tennis player Tony Wendice (Ray Milland) and his extremely carefully planned plot to kill his wife, wealthy Margot Wendice (Grace Kelly), for her money and because of an old (now ended) affair with Mark Halliday (Robert Cummings). Of course, the best laid plans of mice and men… The movie was remade in 1998 as A Perfect Murder, starring Michael Douglas, Gwyneth Paltrow and Viggo Mortensen (pre-Lord of the Rings, Mortensen actually also appeared in a remake of Psycho with Vince Vaughn later that same year).

Rear Window – The classic voyeur film, this 1954 movie (yes, based on a short story) stars Jimmy Stewart and Grace Kelly. While spying on his neighbors, Stewart as photographer Jeff (stuck in a room due to a broken leg) begins to think that a murder has occurred in one of the neighboring buildings. Kelly plays Jeff’s girlfriend, the model Lisa. For you trivia/remake people, this movie was remade in 1998 with Christopher Reeve as the friendly neighborhood peeping tom, and also inspired 2007’s Disturbia starring Shia LaBoeuf.

To Catch a Thief – Pretty light-hearted for a Hitchcock film, this romantic intrigue from 1955 is set on the French Riviera and deals with an ex-jewel thief, John “the Cat” Robie (Cary Grant), who doesn’t want to get blamed for a recent string of jewel thefts. To catch the actual culprit, he gets to know the people he suspects are the next victims, wealthy Jessie Stevens and her (surprise!) beautiful daughter Frances Stevens (Grace Kelly).

Alfred Hitchcock Presents… – Arguably one of the things Hitchcock is most famous for, the opening credits of this long-running show (the silhouette, the music, the somber “Good evening”) are iconic. Starting in 1955, the show was renamed The Alfred Hitchcock Hour in 1962 and extended to a full hour. It ended in 1965 (but lives on through iTunes!). Each episode was a different story of mystery or drama, and featured many famous (or soon-to-be-famous) guest stars, such as Dick Van Dyke, Bette Davis, Steve McQueen, Robert Redford (who just loves his classic mystery TV shows with famous opening sequences by the show’s creator – he also had a main role in an episode of The Twilight Zone a year later), and yes, William Shatner. You can listen to the show’s theme music, Funeral March of a Marionette, by playing the video below.

Vertigo – A head trip of a movie, this 1958 thriller with Jimmy Stewart and Kim Novak tells of retired, and acrophobic (really, really afraid of heights – in other words, someone who has height “vertigo”), detective John “Scottie” Ferguson and the favor he does for an old college friend, Gavin Elster. Elster believes that his wife Madeleine is possessed by the spirit of her dead great-grandmother, Carlotta Valdes, (yes, you heard right) and asks Scottie to follow Madeleine to confirm his suspicions. Scottie does, but gets a little too involved in this case. If you know what I mean. Which I’m sure you do.

North by Northwest – You’ve probably all seen that scene of a guy running from a low-flying plane through a corn field at some point or another (or you’ve seen one of the many imitations of it). Well, that scene is from this iconic 1959 thriller starring Cary Grant as ad exec Roger Thornhill and Eva Marie Saint as the mysterious Eve Kendall (trivia: Saint won an Academy Award for her role in On the Waterfront and, yep, that was her as Martha Kent in Superman Returns). As a suspense thriller, this movie naturally has many twists and turns, but essentially it tells the story of Thornhill and his unfortunate escapades after being mistaken for government agent George Kaplan. Thornhill travels all across the country, pursued by policemen (who believe he has murdered someone), in an effort to find the real George Kaplan.

Psycho – Showing the lengths to which someone will go to win the coveted “Best Costume” award, someone actually dressed up as the “Shower Scene” from this classic Hitchcock horror film at a Halloween costume party I attended. I won’t go into the details, but let’s just say that fake blood, a shower curtain and a skin-colored body suit were involved. Although you may not have seen the film, almost everyone has heard of the fateful (and fatal) meeting between the owner of the Bates motel, Norman Bates as portrayed by Anthony Perkins, and Janet Leigh’s Marion Crane. This 1960 film was, naturally, based on a Robert Bloch novel, who actually based his own work on the real life of Ed Gein, a serial killer. The movie follows the investigation into the mysterious circumstances behind Marion’s and other disappearances at the Bates Motel.

The Birds – Continuing on his horror streak, this 1963 film is another (albeit loose) adaptation of a Daphne du Maurier story (see Rebecca for the other). Rich Melanie Daniels (Tippi Hedren) encounters attorney Mitch Brenner (Rod Taylor) at a pet shop – they’re both, surprise surprise, buying birds – and ends up following him to his family home on the coast. Soon, the small town is being viciously attacked by flocks of birds. Trust me, it’s scarier than it sounds.

For a complete list of Hitchcock’s many titles, go to IMDB.com.

Alfred Hitchcock

SPOILER ALERT

SPOILER ALERT

…and those who don’t.

The Man Who Knew Too Much – (1934) The assassination attempt (of a diplomat, as it turns out) at Albert Hall in London is prevented by Jill, who screams, thereby distracting the shooter. The shooter escapes to his hideout, but is followed by the police, who lay siege to the place in a gunfight modeled on a real gun battle in London in 1911. Jill, an excellent shooter, kills one of the kidnappers holding Betty, the police breach the building, and Betty is saved.

The 39 Steps – Hannay, after a cross-country chase, ends up back at the same London theater watching the same show with Pamela, a woman he met while on the run (she doesn’t want to be with him and betrays him repeatedly to the police). He discovers that the man headlining the show (“Mr. Memory”) is actually part of the “39 Steps” organization, and gets him to reveal what the organization is and what their plans are (building a silent aircraft). One of the men behind the organization, Jordan, shoots Mr. Memory and tries to escape, unsuccessfully.

Rebecca – Maxim de Winter tells the story of the “real” Rebecca, a manipulative and unfaithful wife whom he did not love. Telling de Winter she was pregnant with someone else’s child, he wanted to kill her, but she fell and hit her head, dying by accident instead. Later it is discovered that she was not pregnant, but instead had learned she had cancer and wanted to provoke de Winter into killing her. After learning about Rebecca’s illness and that de Winter and his wife will be returning to the house, Mrs. Danvers sets fire to the mansion. The last shot is of the mansion, with the married couple outside and safe, being burned to the ground.

Shadow of a Doubt – Uncle Charlie is the serial killer. He attempts to kill his niece several times, eventually trying to throw her from a train bound for San Francisco. They fight, and Uncle Charlie is the one who falls off the train and dies under the wheels of a train coming from the other direction.

Notorious – Sebastian finds out about Alicia and gradually begins to poison her. However, Devlin discovers what he is doing and takes Alicia out of Sebastian’s house, warning him about what will happen if Sebastian’s friends find out what was going on (Alicia a spy and so on). As Devlin takes Alicia away, Sebastian is left to his fate at his friends’ hands, who would not hesitate to harm him.

Strangers on a Train – Antony stalks Haines, incessantly reminding him to keep up his part of the bargain. Eventually, Antony confides what’s going on to Anne, the woman he loves, as Antony tries to turn the police onto Haines as the murderer of his wife. In the end, Antony and Haines struggle and Antony dies, crushed by a merry-go-round. However, in his hand is a lighter, a piece of evidence that implicates him in the murder of Haines’s wife. The last scene is Anne and Haines on a train together, walking away from a stranger who is attempting to make conversation.

Dial M for Murder – Margot manages to kill Swan, the attacker hired by Tony, by stabbing him with scissors. To cover everything up, Tony then tries to make it look like Margot planned to kill Swan, rather than killing him in self-defense. However, the inspector on their case (Hubbard) discovers that Tony is the one behind it all when Tony accidentally reveals that he knows the hiding place of the key Swan used to get into the apartment.

Rear Window – Jeff was right and he did see a murder. The murderer throws Jeff out the window, attempting to kill him, and is then arrested by the police. Jeff doesn’t die, but breaks both of his legs, and lives happily ever after (or so I assume, but this is Hitchcock after all) with Lisa.

To Catch a Thief – Yes, John “catches the thief,” a young girl named Danielle. John is cleared and ends up together with Frances at his vineyards in the south of France.

Vertigo – Madeleine commits suicide from a bell tower and dies. Scottie tries to save her but can’t, due to his vertigo. Scottie goes into despair, and eventually becomes obsessed with a woman, Judy, who looks just like Madeleine. However, it is revealed that it was all a scam – Judy was actually hired by Gavin to pretend to be his wife and convince an esteemed detective, Scottie, that she was possessed and had committed suicide (when in fact, Gavin pushed the real Madeleine from the tower), so that Gavin could literally get away with murder. Scottie confronts Judy with the truth at the bell tower itself, and frightened by the appearance of a third person at the top of the tower (who turns out to be a nun), Judy stumbles and falls to her death. Scottie looks down at her body, his vertigo now gone.

North by Northwest – Oh dear. It’s very complicated. Essentially, Eve (revealed to be the bad guy’s girlfriend and then revealed again, this time for real!, to be a government agent) helps Thornhill get national secrets away from the bad guys. There is a struggle on Mt. Rushmore, the police shoot the bad guy, Thornhill saves Eve’s life, and they end up together.

Psycho – Although the murders seem to have been committed by Bates’s mother, it is revealed in a famous twist that it is in fact Bates, dressed up as his mother, who has committed them. His mother, whom he murdered, is now a preserved corpse in his basement. Nice and creepy, right? The movie ends with Bates in a prison cell, now totally crazy (as if he wasn’t already crazy enough).

The Birds – After several deaths, panick ensues. Mitch, Melanie, Mitch’s sister Cathy, and his mother Lydia board themselves up in a house and survive a massive bird attack, but Melanie is severely injured after they think the attack has ended. Mitch, Cathy and Lydia drive Melanie to the hospital, surrounded by a sea of birds. The birds do not attack and they drive off safely.


Quotes

September 24, 2007

Superman II

Oh, I’ve been, uh… working out.

(Probably one of my favorite moments in a movie. Ever. After all, how can you resist a classic combination of sweet revenge, a “knowing laugh” / only-the-audience-in-on-the-joke set up and a superhero a**-kicking? You just can’t.)


Comic book movies that should be made

September 22, 2007

The Best Week Ever website recently posted a list of superheroes that it thinks should appear in the movies in the near future. The choices range from the expected (The Flash and, yes, please just make this already! – The Green Lantern) to the unexpected (Quail Man – no, you’re not mistaken, they are referring to the superhero alter-ego of a certain animated Nickelodeon character), but I’m not going to take this time to either criticize or praise their choices. Instead, they got me to thinking.

Sure, all of these superheroes would be fun to watch, but what about branching out a bit more to the “everyday superheroes” in comic books and graphic novels. With the recent critical success of the film adaptations of Persepolis, American Splendor and, for the most part, Sin City, and the huge commercial success of 300, why not look at some of the “alternative” options out there?

Here then are the comic stories that I personally think should be made into film at the earliest available opportunity.

5. Strangers in Paradise – Terry Moore

In these days of Desperate Housewives, Footballers’ Wives, and, well, Kill Bill, what could be better than a film adaptation of Moore’s brilliant and soapy tale of two friends and their tumultuous friendships, romantic relationships and, of course, sinister crime-ridden pasts? I don’t know why it’s not being made already.

4. Bone – Jeff Smith

This highly critically acclaimed epic and comic tale of three cousins – not human, but rather cute little creatures that kind of look like humanoid, um, bones – and their fantastical journeys would make an amazing animated tale from a studio like Pixar (toys, monsters, fish, cars, rats, and, yes, superheroes – why not human-shaped bones?). With the recent release of full color versions of the tales by Scholastic, what better time than now.

3. Who Killed Retro Girl? – Brian Michael Bendis

Volume 1 of well-known comics writer Bendis’s (Ultimate Spider-man, Daredevil, Avengers) award-winning Powers series, this gritty graphic novel follows the investigation of two detectives into the murder of the popular superhero Retro Girl as they negotiate a world overflowing with superheroes. It seems Bendis has already tried to do Powers with a studio, and is working on a film adaptation of his other work, Jinx, which might star Charlize Theron. Well, here’s hoping Hollywood is good to Bendis – at least he already knows the unfortunate ups and downs of Hollywood from his satire Fortune and Glory (which would also make a great movie, by the way – it’s exactly the kind of insider skewering, sort of in the vein of Entourage, that Hollywood seems to love these days).

2. The Sandman – Neil Gaiman

Although Gaiman has perhaps not had the best luck lately with his graphic novel-to-screen adaptations (see Stardust – as many, unfortunately, haven’t), I still hold out hope for a cool screen version of Gaiman’s most famous work, his dark fantastical – mythological – philosophical ode to the god of dreams, The Sandman. How would they accomplish an adaptation of this somewhat ethereal and eccentric series? I have no idea. But that doesn’t stop Hayao Miyazaki from making, well, many ethereal, eccentric (and successful!) films.

1. Kingdom Come – Alex Ross and Mark Waid

Okay, I can’t deny that this is in fact a superhero comic. Not only a superhero comic, but, really, the granddaddy of all superhero comics. Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Captain America, The Flash, Green Lantern, the whole Justice League all together in an apocalyptic superhero showdown? And illustrated in glossy, artful color by Alex Ross, the Norman Rockwell of comics illustrators? Not to mention, the brilliant scene with Clark Kent, Bruce Wayne and Diana Prince all eating lunch together at Planet Krypton, a Planet Hollywood-style superhero-themed restaurant (the host is dressed in a Superman costume and they serve Supergirl chicken sandwiches – you get the idea).

Yes, I know they’re already making a Justice League movie. But here is a JLA story already pre-made, with that great “here’s a disillusioned Clark Kent 10 years later” perspective, just waiting to be turned into a movie. Plus, rapper mogul Jay-Z even named his comeback album after the comic. Need I say more? Make this movie now!

Honorable mentions:

Scott Pilgrim would make for lots of great crazy ex-boyfriends / romantic / martial arts fun (and, apparently, has already been optioned anyway, and will be helmed by the director of Shaun of the Dead / Hot Fuzz), while Courtney Crumrin would act as a perfect “haunted house”-type tale, complete with tales of mysterious nighttime creatures, magic, the fairy world, and, naturally, the social terrors of school.

And yes, I do realize that many or all of these might not translate perfectly into film and that they could probably never live up to my own imagination of them, but hey, that sort of concern certainly doesn’t stop me from wishing for a film adaptation of Robert Jordan‘s almost breathtakingly complex fantasy series. If they can make a movie version of Tolkein so successfully, and if Spiderman’s Sam Raimi has already optioned Terry Goodkind for a miniseries, I don’t think great film versions of these titles are so far out of reach.


Quotes

September 21, 2007

Vertigo

“Only one is a wanderer; two together are always going somewhere.”

For more on Vertigo, check out the Alfred Hitchcock cheat sheet.


Win a part in new Will Ferrell movie

September 20, 2007

Only 6 more days left to become a movie star! (or, well, an extra – but hey, think of the Kraft services table!)

To raise money for his friend’s charity, Cancer for College, Will Ferrell is auctioning off a role in his upcoming movie, Step Brothers. According to USAToday,

Ferrell will announce the winner on Sept. 27, and that person will meet the actor the next day at the 14th annual Cancer for College golf tournament dinner at Temecula Creek Inn…

In October, the winner will join Ferrell on set of his new movie, “Step Brothers,” and appear in a scene.

According to Cinematical.com, the movie:

…stars Ferrell and John C. Reilly as two guys who become competitive step brothers following the marriage of their single parents.

The bidding started on Monday and ends September 26, so if your money isn’t all tied up in that Harry Potter auction (which now also ends the 26th), go here to bid now!

And think, when your parents / significant other / nosy best friend ask what you spent some 30 thousand dollars on, you can say with pride “to see my name in lights.” Let the bidding begin!

UPDATE: And the winner is… According to People, “a Dallas man who wishes to remain anonymous… secured the chance for [his son] to play an extra in Ferrell’s new movie by bidding more than $47,000 at a charity auction.” That’s right. Forty-seven thousand dollars. That is one dedicated father. Mom, Dad – I think perhaps it’s time to think beyond DVDs for my birthday next year. 


What kind of movie are you?

September 19, 2007

People say (perhaps more often than is necessary) that you can’t judge a book by its cover, but can you judge people by what movies they like, or even by what type of movie they most resemble?

I’ve compiled a list of popular movie genres and the telltale signs that someone might be starting to identify with that genre a little too much. See anyone you know?

Action

When falling through a glass window, do you:

a) Start screaming.

b) Pray.

c) Shout a witty comeback to the man who pushed you while pulling on the ripcord to your backpack parachute.

You live by the Boy Scout motto: Be Prepared. Or if not prepared, you always, always act like you are – and improvise (if you don’t think that Kleenex is a potential weapon, this is not the category for you). A man (or woman) of few words, you have a gift for phrases that are catchy and memorable, and, of course, almost improbably timely. Your voice is often a bit gruff from years of some sort of addictive habit and/or being knocked down perhaps one too many times by black-attired anonymous assassins.

You have perfect aim and an uncanny ability to distract enemies to the point where their own aim is nonexistent. You have very strong feelings about monologuing, especially by scheming loner types with weird, five-minute-long laughs. Unfortunately, you’re probably not great at long-term relationships, but on the bright side, you have almost no trouble finding temporary flings. Finally, you’re barely ever wrong (or won’t ever admit that you are) and you don’t like being told what to do, except, shall we say, by more “aged” citizens, particularly ones wearing expensive suits. And if you do find someone to trust and possibly even love, you’re fiercely loyal.

If you answered c to the question, the above description matches your personality and you can picture every possible escape route from the place you are now, then you’re most definitely Action.

Movies you should watch: Die Hard, Indiana Jones, James Bond, Bourne, The Matrix, Robocop, anything with Arnold Schwarzenegger (and probably almost everything on this EW list).

Horror

When leaving a party to go home late at night, do you:

a) Call a car service.

b) Tell your friends you don’t need their help and walk home alone, preferably only taking poorly lit streets and dark alleyways.

c) Grab pepper spray, a bullet-proof vest and your three, ex-Secret Service bodyguards and walk down as many brightly lit, heavily populated sidewalks as possible.

A bit naive and trusting, you tend not to be very suspicious (or even aware) of what’s going on around you. You commonly forget to lock, or just close, the door and/or you don’t think twice about telling a mysterious stranger which door you leave unlocked at night. You really like the phrase “I’ll be right back.” You carry around a grainy, digital camera – just in case. You or someone close to you might also be one or more of the following: a bully, a very attractive woman, a frequent babysitter, someone who is sexually active, a jerk, an insensitive tourist, someone who likes to take daring, out of the way trips, a corporate and/or rich snob.

If you answered b, the above description matches your personality and your phone is ringing right now, then you are Horror.

Movies you should watch: Halloween, The Exorcist, Psycho, Carrie, Silence of the Lambs, Night of the Living Dead, Alien, 28 Days Later (and, for some levity, Shaun of the Dead)

Lifetime Original Movie

You are:

a) Male.

b) Female.

You like long walks on the beach and watching the sun set. You are really attracted to obviously bad and seriously sketchy men. You can be a bit jumpy at loud noises and are often paranoid about sounds coming from outside the house, but probably for good reason. You have unfortunately suffered many, many personal, professional, family, and romantic tragedies in a very short span of time. You have a mentally unstable twin and/or a murderous family member and/or a traitorous best friend. Most importantly, however, you firmly believe that you can always learn to love again and that if you believe in yourself, everything will work out all right in the end. Requirement: you must currently have or have had, or know someone with, amnesia.

If you answered b, the above description matches your personality and you have Kleenex and a pint of ice cream handy, then you are a Lifetime Original Movie.

Movies you should watch: Sleeping with the Enemy, anything on Lifetime that stars Meredith Baxter-Birney and Tori Spelling, and other movies in this EW Lifetime Movie article (and go here to create your own Lifetime movie title!)

Romantic comedy

You are engaged. Do you:

a) Happily plan your wedding and future with the man or woman of your dreams.

b) Unconsciously sabotage your own wedding while secretly dreaming about the guy or girl who recently appeared in your life.

c) Never agree to get married in the first place.

You either have a very eligible (and single) good friend of the opposite sex (but you just don’t see them that way), or you know absolutely no one of the opposite sex. You are not known for your long-term relationships. On the other hand, you are an excellent internal monologuer.

You deal with relationship woes and/or self-esteem issues by talking to your quirky, self-deprecating, not-unattractive-but-not-competition friend(s), although you don’t often follow his or her (or their) advice. You might like to go out to parties (when your friends insist), but more often than not you prefer to be a homebody. You might also be dealing with some difficult personal style issues.

If you answered b or c (this one could go either way), the above description matches your personality and you’re planning to be at the Empire State Building on Valentine’s Day, then you’re a Romantic Comedy.

Movies you should watch: You’ve Got Mail, Sleepless in Seattle, Pretty Woman, While You Were Sleeping, When Harry Met Sally…, Roman Holiday, The Philadelphia Story

Comedy

You are at a restaurant for a job interview, do you:

a) Arrive right on time, fully prepared.

b) Arrive a bit late (volunteering at that soup kitchen took a bit longer than expected), apologize profusely, and proceed to wow them with your eloquence and graceful manners.

c) Arrive ten minutes late (your pet ferret got loose), trip and spill hot soup all over your new suit, go to the bathroom to wash and blow dry your pants/skirt, run into your interviewer there while you’re in your underwear, and then belatedly realize they’re not the bathroom attendee after you’ve handed them some change.

A bit of a klutz, you are frequently physically awkward around the opposite sex and/or their family and friends. A man or woman of perhaps too many words, you commonly end up referring to somewhat inappropriate parts of the human anatomy, whether on purpose or tragically by accident. Normal, everyday situations just don’t seem to go your way – in fact, they often seem to go horribly, horribly wrong. You are one of the following: a parent with a very large family, a young guy in high school/college (literally or spiritually) who has lots of similarly-minded friends, an eeevil dictator, a woman pretending to be a man pretending to be…, someone who is not very sexually active, an acerbic New Yorker, a worker with a very boring profession or a job that caters to highly annoying, preferably snobbish customers.

If you answered c, the above description matches your personality and you have already spilled your morning coffee in a very inconvenient place, then you are probably a Comedy.

Movies you should watch: Young Frankenstein, Spaceballs, The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Wedding Crashers, Office Space, There’s Something About Mary, Annie Hall, Monty Python and the Holy Grail, Airplane!, Some Like It Hot, Blazing Saddles, Caddyshack, National Lampoon

Independent films, preferably with subtitles

In your spare time, you:

a) Listen to classical or otherwise obscure musical recordings and finish up your own translation of “Crime and Punishment” while nibbling on some bread made fresh that morning by the local baker (whom you know by name).

b) Go on a pub crawl with some friends, crash when it’s getting light out and then wake up at 4pm.

c) Play games on your Xbox.

You like talking. A lot. Or at least writing or otherwise expressing yourself artistically in a very deep and passionate way. Unfortunately, you are not often happy – but more as a way of life rather than as a mood. You care deeply about sociopolitical issues and/or are a keen observer of human behavior. You like slow walks through forests or sitting by the fire in old country estates. Requirement: you must love to read, particulary books that are bound in leather.

Movies you should watch: Any miniseries on Masterpiece Theatre, Merchant Ivory films, Marcel Pagnol movies, Before Sunrise/Sunset, Stranger than Paradise (and check out Empire Magazine’s list of the 50 greatest independent films)


Harry Potter is bigger than James Bond

September 18, 2007

It has recently been reported in various news sources that Harry Potter has now surpassed James Bond as the most profitable film franchise of all time, with the Star Wars series taking a back seat in third place.

According to the Daily Telegraph:

The five movies about the adventures of a boy wizard have earned £2.2 billion around the world, surpassing the £2.18 billion made by the 007 franchise.

The six-film Star Wars series sits third on the list of most-lucrative movie franchises, with £2.08 billion in worldwide box office sales.

And for you Americans out there, that’s pounds, remember, not US dollars – so if you’re wondering what that would be in dollars, you essentially have to double those figures (something fun to think about for that next trip to England). (conversion calculator)

Of course, keep in mind that not all the Harry Potter movies have been released yet, giving the series more than enough room to grow. And what’s more, only five Harry Potter movies have been released so far, and six Star Wars installments, while there are over 20 (official) James Bond films.

Which means that, if you look at the average gross of each film in the three franchises, the figures are a little different. On average then, each Harry Potter film has made £440 million, the James Bond films about £104 million and the Star Wars movies about £347 million a piece. Note, however, that those Bond figures are not adjusted for inflation.

On the other hand, as a friend of mine pointed out, the James Bond franchise will most likely keep going and going (and going), while how many more Harry Potter (apart from the last two) and Star Wars films will there be?

In a slightly humorous take on the whole Bond vs. Bourne idea, check out The Daily Telegraph’s Potter vs. Bond piece (Lord Voldemort versus Blofeld? Difficult, very difficult…).


Author Robert Jordan has died

September 17, 2007

Not movie related, I know, but as a titan of the book fantasy world, I felt tribute must be paid to him and what will now be his unfinished Wheel of Time series.

He died of a rare blood disease at the age of 58, while working on the 12th book in his series.

For more, go to USAToday.


Getting excited for the new “Get Smart” movie

September 17, 2007

As my boyfriend has been humming its (now highly irritating) theme music all weekend, I decided to attempt to get it out of my system by writing about the much anticipated (or it should be!) Get Smart remake, coming in June of 2008.

Here then are my five reasons why this new film is so exciting:

  1. Steve Carell + Maxwell Smart + top secret elevators = awesome
  2. It’s directed by Peter Segal, the guy behind Tommy Boy and 50 First Dates (and, um, Anger Management) and thus a man who should know his way around slapstick comedy with heart.
  3. The popular comedy series about secret agents that the movie is based on was originally created by Mel Brooks (Blazing Saddles, Spaceballs, Young Frankenstein…need I go on?) and Buck Henry (SNL host, Daily Show with Jon Stewart).
  4. Alan Arkin as the Chief means lots of Arkin plus Carell Cone of Silence hilarity! (I hope)
  5. And most importantly, the trailer:

Quotes

September 14, 2007

3:10 to Yuma (2007 remake)

[Note: This movie is about the tenuous capture of notorious outlaw Ben Wade (Russell Crowe) by railroad man Butterfield (Dallas Roberts), Pinkerton agent Byron McElroy (Peter Fonda), rancher Dan Evans (Christian Bale), hired gun Tucker (Kevin Durand), and others. My boyfriend called this a “modern” Wild West tale, as it deals not with the classic good vs. evil, but rather the ambiguity of good vs. evil – as epitomized in the successful criminal Wade and the pure, but dirt poor, Evans.]

Early on, Wade asks his captors where they’re headed.

Byron: Taking you to the 3:10 to Yuma day after tomorrow.

Tucker: Shouldn’t have told him that.

Wade: Relax, friend. Now if we get separated, I’ll know where to meet up.


Fun Jewish holiday films

September 13, 2007

With the Jewish High Holy Days upon us, I thought this a good opportunity to come up with a list of fun, but relevant!, holiday movie options for those long hours spent with family (as much as you love them and want to spend the entire time talking to them, of course).

By holiday, and in chronological order:

Yom Kippur and Rosh Hashanah

(aka, the High Holy Days; aka, the Day of Atonement and the New Year)

Mrs. Hall: How do you plan to spend the holidays, Mrs. Singer?

Mrs. Singer: We fast.

Mr. Hall: Fast?

Mr. Singer: No food. You know, to atone for our sins.

Mrs. Hall: What sins? I don’t understand.

Mr. Singer: To tell you the truth, neither do we.

From Woody Allen’s “Annie Hall” (imdb.com quotes)

Although these are supposed to be the most important days of the year in the Jewish religion, they are not very popular in the film industry. “Day of Atonement” just doesn’t capture people’s imagination, I guess…

Keeping the Faith – A fun and light-hearted look at love, faith and family starring Ben Stiller as a rabbi and Edward Norton as a priest. Not strictly about the High Holy Days true, but there’s lots of great scenes in temple (see, services can be fun!), including one at Yom Kippur (the “Superbowl” of the Jewish calendar, as Ben Stiller’s character puts it).

Also check out this fun music video about Rosh Hashanah on YouTube.

Sukkot

(aka, Sukkos, Succoth, the one with the sukkah)

Ushpizin – Funny and tender, this critically acclaimed Israeli tale of an Orthodox couple down on their luck who receive a miracle and escaped convicts all on the same Sukkot is definitely worth at least one family viewing. Plus, it’s only an hour and a half long! Perfect for that hour or so that it takes all of your family members to actually leave the holiday celebrations (Wait, no, there’s just one more person I just have to say goodbye to…).

Hanukkah

(aka, Chanukah, Chanukkah, Hanukah, etc. etc. aka, The Festival of Lights)

On Moische! On Herschel! On Shlomo!

It’s Hanukkah Harry 8 nights a year!

On Moische! On Herschel! On Shlomo!

Means that Hannukah Harry is here!

Delivering toys to Jewish girls and Jewish boys

We dance the horah around the menorah

‘Cuz Hanukkah Harry is here!

From the Saturday Night Live skit “The Night Hannukah Harry Saved Christmas” (For complete transcript, go here. For pictures and audio, go here.)

A Rugrats Chanukah – For children and, yes, for adults as well. Fun for the whole family! (cliché intended)

Eight Crazy Nights – Unfortunately, not nearly as much fun as the classic song on which Adam Sandler based the title of this animated holiday film. But it does exist, if you’d like to give it a try – it’s about a drunken criminal who gets sentenced to doing community service as a referee at the Youth Basketball League during the holiday season. That plot is probably a clue that just because it’s animated doesn’t mean it’s for kids. According to imdb.com, it’s rated PG-13 for “frequent crude and sexual humor, drinking and brief drug references.”

For complete lyrics to Sandler’s The Hanukkah Song, go here.

Purim

(Hamantaschen, noisemakers, costumes – and lots of overexcited children!)

For your Consideration – A Christopher Guest (Best in Show, A Mighty Wind) film about Purim? Specifically, a Purim set in the American South? Yep, that’s right – Guest’s newest improv-heavy film, a satire of the film industry and the Academy Awards, is about the making of a film called Home for Purim. This film within a film is about a Southern family named the Pischers (you can’t make this stuff up) who gather for what is possibly their last Purim together. Bonus: Cameos from Office workers Ricky Gervais and John Krasinski! Check out the “promotional site” for Home for Purim.

Passover

(i.e., Moses getting out of Egypt)

A Rugrats Passover – I know, another Rugrats. But they’re just that good. (And how often do you get to see a female, albeit extremely young, pharaoh in one of these things?)

Ten Commandments – If you’ve somehow managed to miss one of the ten thousand plus airings of this Charlton Heston classic around Passover time, well, I don’t really know what to do for you.

Prince of Egypt – Dreamworks’ animated version of the Exodus tale. I can’t say I ever imagined Val Kilmer as the voice of Moses, or Michelle Pfeiffer as the voice of Zipporah, but Ralph Fiennes as the Pharaoh Ramses? Priceless. Winner of the Academy Award for the song “When You Believe.”

When Do We Eat? – To be honest, not my favorite film, but it’s an entire “Home for the Holidays”-style film about the Passover Seder, so I felt it had to be included. Unfortunately critically panned for the most part, it definitely does have its humorous and clever moments. Rated R, with Jack Klugman (TV’s The Odd Couple), Michael Lerner (Barton Fink) and Shiri Appleby (Roswell).

Miscellaneous

(for when you just can’t deal with anything else that’s holiday-related)

Everything is Illuminated – An alternately touching and hilarious look at an obsessive young Jewish man’s search for his past – a past mostly obliterated by the Nazis – in Eastern Europe. Based on the book by Jonathan Safran Foer, it was directed by Liev Schreiber (The Painted Veil) and stars Elijah Wood.

Crossing Delancey – The classic New York romantic comedy featuring Amy Irving and Peter Riegert as a bookstore manager and pickle store owner respectively who are set up by a Jewish matchmaker employed by Irving’s traditional grandmother. Funny (but tasteful) highjinks ensue.

Liberty Heights – A comedy about growing up Jewish in 1950s Baltimore. Dealing with anti-Semitism and race relations, this bittersweet film from Barry Levinson has some pretty hilarious moments balanced with what are clearly very serious issues. Starring Adrien Brody, Bebe Neuwirth, and Ben Foster (3:10 to Yuma).

The Frisco Kid – A goofy and sometimes dumb, but still often winning, Western-style comedy starring Gene Wilder as a Polish rabbi on a Torah mission and Harrison Ford (yes, that Harrison Ford) as a bank robber. From 1979.

Exodus – Worth it to watch Paul Newman as a Jewish rebel. An epic film that deals with the founding of Israel.

Staples

(not fun necessarily, but you just can’t have a list without ’em)

Schindler’s List and Fiddler on the Roof