*Please note that this article is an opinion-editorial.
This is a call to arms, and it might be very futile. But, I believe we, as people, who care about films are at a fairly critical juncture.
I made what I thought was an interesting connection in my head while sitting at the Disney El Capitan Theater in Hollywood, waiting for the press screening of Wreck-It Ralph to begin.
If you don’t live in Los Angles, El Capitan is a classic old movie house on Hollywood Boulevard (It’s literally right across the street from Grauman’s Chinese Theater.) that has in the past few years been completely refurbished and operated by Disney. Built in 1926, El Cap hosted the world premiere of Citizen Cain. After falling into a state of serious disrepair, Disney and Pacific Theaters reopened the newly fixed-up palace in 1991.
One of the many treats in watching a film there is the great Wurlitzer organ, played by the great organist Rob Richards. The pre-movie medley of Disney songs that Richards plays is kind of amazing to hear, especially when you consider the great pieces of music Disney films have given us over the years.
So, this is where my connection kicked in; most of the Disney songs Richards plays are in chronological order. There is a massive gap in time between the great songs like “Bear Necessities” and “I Wanna Be Like You” from The Jungle Book in the late 1960s and the Menken/Ashman modern classics that began to populate the Disneyverse in the late '80s and early '90s. In short, there’s a pretty sizeable gap in Disney animation in the '70s and most of the '80s.
After 12 years of wandering in the wilderness of the Uncanny Valley, Oscar winner and film geek patron saint Robert Zemeckis has returned to live-action filmmaking. I was never sure why the director of such modern classics as the Back to the Future trilogy, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, and Forrest Gump would leave live-action filmmaking behind to devote himself to motion capture technology. I mean, what’s the point of putting Tom Hanks in a motion capture suit just so you can reanimate him as a dead-eyed, super creepy character that more or less looks just like Tom Hanks? Why not just shoot that as live action? MoCap always makes a lot more sense to me when Andy Serkis is playing a chimp.
I suppose I can see the allure to an extent since Zemeckis has always been a director who pushed the visual effects envelope. But, after his production company was defunded by Disney following the box office disaster that was Mars Needs Moms, Zemeckis has returned to us 12 years after his last live-action film, Cast Away.
Maybe it was just me, but I was kind of getting tired of Tim Burton.
For the past 10 or 15 years, it seemed he was just making the same movie over and over again. He kept regurgitating the same Burtonesque tropes to lesser positive effect. Before you saw a single frame of a new Burton movie, there were a boatload of things of which you could be absolutely sure: the lead characters would be in silent movie makeup, the color scheme would be either totally desaturated or completely blown up like 1930s Technicolor, a bland version of suburbia might pop up, Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter would show up and give performances that seemed increasingly undirected and detached from any recognizable human behavior, and Danny Elfman would provide a percussive musical score that sounded largely cribbed from every other score he’d written for Burton. It was all very tired and predictable.
A friend on Twitter tweeted out on Monday that the last three months of the calendar year are also the best three months of the calendar year. I’m inclined to agree with him. I’m a big fan of fall. I love the weather, although as a Southern California resident, we don’t exactly have a change of seasons. I like fall fashions. I’m an avid fan of both college football and the NFL. And, my favorite holidays come during the last quarter of the year.
I love Halloween. I have since I was a kid. I also love theme parks. I have since I was a kid. Universal Studios does me a solid by combining both of these loves into one irresistible event.
In notes he was compiling while writing his final novel, The Last Tycoon, F. Scott Fitzgerald famously wrote, “There are no second acts in American lives.” I’m pretty sure Ben Affleck would disagree with him on that point.
Each year, approximately 100,000 people of all ages move to Los Angeles to try and break into acting. Every single one of them, regardless of gender, should aspire to being as great at their craft as Sam Rockwell is.
Sadly, the majority of the aspiring “actors” are as delusional as Tobias Funke, their patron saint Their real goal is fame and not art, and I would gladly wager most of them have no idea who Sam Rockwell even is. Irony is such a b---h sometimes.
Remember that scene in Good Will Hunting? The one where Robin Williams tells Matt Damon all about how Williams met his wife? He was with his buddies about to attend the sixth game of the 1975 World Series and became smitten with a girl in a bar. He gives away his ticket and says, “Sorry, guys. I gotta see about a girl.”
I had a similar movie going experience tonight. I went to see a film for which I am decidedly not the target demographic. But, I went because I wanted to see about a girl.
How do you feel about spoilers?
Personally, I try to avoid them like the plague. I like to be surprised by stories, and it bugs me to no end when I accidentally stumble across something I didn’t want to know. You can’t unread those things. At the same time, I know people who will actively try to seek out spoilers. They’ll try to find shooting scripts online, so they can read them before they see the final movie. To each their own I suppose, but that to me is just nuts.
For instance, what if you could have been among the first audiences to see Psycho in 1960 and to have no idea where the movie was going? It’s a film that starts out as one thing and then (Spoiler Alert for people living under rocks!) proceeds to whack the leading lady in one of the most famous scenes in movie history. Most audiences know that scene is coming. Imagine its impact if you had no idea what Hitchcock had in store for Janet Leigh. Or, for that matter, what Hitchcock had in mind for Norman Bates’ mother.
At this stage, I am continually astonished by people who seem genuinely amazed when something Trey Parker and Matt Stone created turns out to be really good. Do these people live in caves or something? I was once one of them, but that was many, many eons ago . . .
Back in the 1990s, I was making my living as a high school English teacher. Some of my students brought to my attention the existence of a new animated series on Comedy Central. It was called South Park, and the kids loved it for two reasons: